~~lt ~

Unsettling the CdIOniality


Towards the Human. After Man.

Its Overrepresentation-An Argument


Stanford University

Guide-Quotes l

One thing in any case is certain: man is neither the oldest nor the most con­
stant problem that has been posed for human knowledge. Taking a relatively
short chronological sample within a restricted geographical area-European
culture since the sixteenth century-one can be certain that man is a recent
invention within it, ... In fact, among all the mutations that have


the knowledge of things and their order, the ... only one, that which began
a century and a half ago and is now perhaps drawing to a close, has made it
possible for the figure of man to appear. And that appearance ... was the
effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge.... If
those arrangements were to disappear as they appeared ... one can certainly
wager that man would be erased
-Michel Foucault. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of The Human Sciences


258 •

Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom

The reality in highly indebted countries is grim. Half of Africa's population­
about 300 million people-live without access to basic healthcare or a safe
water source. In Tanzania, where


percent of the population dies before

age 35. the government spends nine times more on foreign debt payments
than on healthcare. In 1997, before Hurricane Mitch, Nicaragua spent more
than halfits revenue on debt payments. Until recently. it has taken countries
in structural adjustment programs six or more years to get debt relief. For
lenders this seems like common sense-making sure the country has its eco­
nomic house in order before canceling debts-but the human cost is tremen­
dous. Six years is a child's entire elementary school education. If
governments are forced to cut subsidies for public education and charge fees
that make schooling too expensive for the poor, it cheats a whole generation
of children.
-Robert W. Edgar; "JubUee 2000: Paying Our Debts"

Step up to the White House, "Let me inJ"

What's my reason for being? I'm your next ofkin,

And we built this motherjucker. you wanna kill me cause 0' my hunger?

... I'm just a black man, why y'all made it so hard?

Damn, nigga gotta go create his own job,

Mr. Mayor. imagine this was yo backyard.

Mr. Governor. imagine it's yo kids that starve,

Imagine yo kids gotta slang crack to survive,

Swing a Mac to be alive•...

Extinction ofEarth? Human cutdown?.,

Tax-payers pay for more jails for black and latin faces"

-Nas, ·CIA"

Definitions of the intellectual are many and diverse. They have. however, one
trait in common, which makes them also different from all other definitions:
they are all self-definitions. Indeed, their authors are the members of the
same rare species they attempt to define.... The specifically intellectual
form ofthe operation-self-definition-masks its universal content which is

Sylvia Wynter

the reproduction and reinforcement of a given social configuration. and­
with it-a given (or claimed) status for the group.
-Zygmunt Bauman, Legislators and Interpreters:

On Modernity. Post-Modernity and Intellectuals
What is known as the Gregorian reform was actually an effort of modern­
ization initiated and carried out by the Church from about




(the year of the Fourth Lateran Council). The reform first of all established
the independence of the Church from secular society. And what better bar­
rier could have been erected between clergy and laity than that of sexuality?
Marriage became the property of lay men and women; virginity, celibacy,
and/or continence became the property of priests. monks. and nuns. A wall
separated the pure from the impure. Impure liquids were banished from the
realm of the pure: the clergy was not allowed to spill sperm or blood and not
permitted to perpetuate original sin through procreation. But in the realm
ofthe impure the flow was not stanched. only regulated. The Church became
a society of bachelors, which imprisoned lay society in marriage.
-Jacques Le Goff. The Medieval Imagination

The intellectual's schizoid character stems from the duality of his social exis­
tence; his history is a record of crises of conscience of various kinds, with a
variety of origins. In their ideologies the intellectuals cultivate certain par­
ticular interests until they have universalized them, then turn about and
expose the partiality of those ideologies.... They articulate the rules of the
sodal order and the theories which give them sanction, but at the same time
it is intellectuals who criticize the existing scheme of things and demand its
-George Konrad. Ivan Szelenyi, The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power

Now the highest Father. God the


... took up man ... and

placing him at the midpoint of the world ... spoke to him as follows: "We
have given to thee. Adam, no fIxed seat, no form of thy very own. no gift
peculiarly thine. that thou mayest feel as thine own. have as thine own, pos­


260 •

linsettling the Caloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom

sess as thine own the seat, the form. the gifts which thou thyself shalt desire.
A limited nature in other creatures is confined within the laws written down
by Us. In conformity with thy free judgment. in whose hands I have placed
thee. thou art confined by no bounds; and thou wilt fix limits of nature for
thyself.... Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have
We made thee; Thou,-like a judge appointed ~for being honorable art the
molder and maker of thyself; thou mayest sculpt thyself into whatever shape
thou dost prefer. Thou canst grow downward into the lower natures which
are brutes. Thou canst again grow upward from thy soul's reason into the
higher natures which are divine:'
-Pica della Mirandola. Oration on the Dignity of Man


IVone between the ongoing imperative of securing the well-being of our
present ethnoclass (i.e.• Western bourgeois) conception of the human. Man,
which overrepresents itself as if it were the human itself, and that of secur­
ing the well-being. and therefore the full cognitive and behavioral autonomy
of the human species itself/ourselve9'ecause of this overrepresentation.
which is defined in the first part of the title as the Coloniality of Being/
Power/Truth/Freedom. any attempt to unsettle the coloniality of power will
call for the unsettling of this overrepresentation as the second and now
purely secular form of what Anfual Quijano identifies as the "Racism/
Ethnicism complex;' on whose basis the world of modernity was brought
into existence from the fifteenth/sixteenth centuries onwards (Quijano 1999.
2000),2 and of what Walter Mignolo identifies as the foundational "colonial
difference" on which the world of modernity was to institute itself (Mignolo
1999. 2000).3

The correlated hypothesis here is that all our present struggles with
respect to race. class. gender. sexual orientation, ethnicity. struggles over the
environment, global warming. severe climate change. the sharply unequal
distribution of the earth resources (20 percent of the world's peoples own 80
percent of its resources. consume two-thirds of its food. and are responsible
for 75 percent of its ongoing pollution. with this leading to two billion of

to the dynamic of overconsumption on the part of the rich techno-industrial North paralleled by that of overpopu­ lation on the part of the dispossessed poor. constituted by the Third. as the postcolonial variant of Fanon's category of les damnes (Fanon 1963)-with this category in the United States coming to comprise the crim­ inalized majority Black and dark-skinned Latino inner-city males now made to man the rapidly expanding prison-industrial complex. This pattern is linked to the fact that while in the post-sixties United States. still partly agrarian worlds of the South~)-these are all differing facets of the central ethnoclass Man vs.Sylvia Wynter • earth's peoples living relatively affluent lives whlIe four billion still live on the edge of hunger and immiseration.and Fourth-World peoples of the so-called "underdeveloped" areas of the world-most totally of all by the peoples of the continent of Mrica (now stricken with AIDS. So that if we see this category of the damnes that is internal to (and interned within) the prison system of the United States as the analog form of a global archi­ pelago. That is. together with their female peers-the kicked-about Welfare Moms-with both being part of the ever-expanding global. coming to claim "normal" North American identity by the putting of visible distance between themselves and the Black population group (in effect. as Herbert Gans noted recently. the criminalized drug-offending prison population. 26: . and whose bottommost place as the most impoverished of all the earth's continents is directly paralleled by the situation of its Black Diaspora peoples. transracial category of the homeless/the jobless. as Gans's fellow sociologist Andrew Hacker (1992) earlier pointed out. and ongoing civil wars. with Haiti being produced and reproduced as the most impover­ ished nation of the Americas)-a systemic pattern emerges. the semi-jobless. with all incoming new nonwhite/non-Black groups. has once again come to be placed at the bottommost place of that hierarchy (Gans. the Black population group. claiming "normal" human status by distancing themselves from the group that is still made to occupy the nadir. Human struggle~ Central to this st-ruggle ~lso1stheusuaHy excluded and invisibilized situation of the category identified by Zygmunt Bauman as the "New Poor" (Bauman 1987). as a category defined at the global level by refugee/economic migrants stranded outside the gates of the rich coun­ tries. 1999). drought. of all the multiple groups comprising the post-sixties social hierarchy.

as well as those of commerce and of economic produc­ tion. "The Sixties. therefore. in the same way as in an earlier epoch and before what Howard Winant identifies as the "immense historical rupture" of the "Big Bang" processes that were to lead to a contemporary modernity defined by the "rise of the West" and the "subju­ gation of the rest of us" (Winant 1994)-before. a "global design" [Mignolo 2000 J) erupted was soon to be erased. and well-being of the empirical human world to continue to be imperatively subordinated to those of the now globally hegemonic ethnoclass world of "Man:' This. which enables the interests. however. the Argument proposes. to use Mignolo's felicitous phrase. then the struggle of our times. was first put in place (if only for a brief hiatus before being coopted. the secularizing intellectual revolution of Renaissance humanism. some in sanitized forms (those pertaining to the category defined by Bauman as "the seduced"). multiple local ter­ rains of struggles (local struggles against. had remained subordinated to that of the post-Gregorian Reform Church of Latin-Christian Europe (Le Goff 1983)." The further proposal here is that.262 • Unsettling the Coloni.lity of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom "nigger" rung of being human within the terms of our present ethnoclass Man's overrepresentation of its "descriptive statement" [Bateson 1969] as if it were that of the human itself). . several of the issues raised then would continue to be articulated. although the brief hiatus during which the sixties' large-scale challenge based on multiple issues. followed by the decentral­ izing religious heresy of the Protestant Reformation and the rise of the mod­ em state-the then world oflaymen and laywomen. reterritorialized [Godzich 1986]) by the multiple anticolonial social-protest movements and intellectual chal­ lenges of the period to which we give the name. one that has hitherto had no name. others in more harshly intensified forms (those pertaining to Bauman's cate­ gory of the "repressed" [Bauman 1987 D. reality. Both forms of "sanitization" would. and therefore to the "rules of the social order" and the theories "which gave them sanction" (See Konrad and Szelenyi guide-quote). is the struggle against this overrepresentation. As a struggle whose first phase. including the institution of the political state. as these rules were articulated by its theologians and implemented by its celibate clergy (See Le Goff guide-quote). function in the same manner as the lawlike effects of the post-six­ ties' vigorous discursive and institutional re-elaboration of the central over­ representation.

the "idea of race" would come to be "the most efficient instrument of social domination invented in the last 500 years:' In order for the world of the laity. still only partly so) mode of being human in the history of the species. Laws of Nature and the Thinkability of Natural. This "enormous act of expression/narration" was paradoxical. the per­ formative enactment of this new "descriptive statement" and its master code of symbolic life and death. African enslavement. It was to be implemented by the West and by its intellectuals as indeed a "Big Bang" process by which it/they were to initiate the first gradual de-supernaturalizing 263 . rather than Supernatural Causality versus the Dynamics of the Colonizer/Colonized Answer to the Question of Who/What We Are. While. to escape their subordi­ nation to the world of the Church.Sylvia Wynter • The Janus face of the emergence of Mignolo's proposed "modernity/colo­ niality" complementarity is sited here. as Anfbal Quijano insists in his Que tal Raza! (2000). PA R T I The Janus Face of the Invention of "Man". Latin American conquest. As also is the answer to the why of the fact that. "sinful by nature" conception/ "descriptive statement" of the human. in the tran­ sumed and reeccupied place of its earlier matrix identity Christian. on the other." Mignolo as the "colonial difference:' and Winant as a huge project demarcating human differences thinkable as a "racial longue duree:' One of the major empirical effects of which would be "the rise of Europe" and its construction of the "world civilization" on the one hand. was to be effected only on the basis of what Quijano identifies as the "coloniality of power. including thatQf~e then flscendant modern European state. on whose basis the hegemony of the Church/ clergy over the lay world of Latin-Christian Europe had been supernaturally legiti­ mated (Chorover 1979). as the first secular or "degodded" (if. by the Renaissance humanists' epochal redescription of the human outside the terms of the then theocentric. it had been enabled to do so only on the basis of what Michel Foucault identifies as the "invention of Man": that is. and Asian subjugation. if this redescription was effected by the lay world's invention of Man as the political subject of the state. and. at the time.

by means ofits/their re-invention of the theo­ centric "descriptive statement" Christian as that of Man in two forms. thereby making possible both the conceptualizability of natural causality. That is. it was this construct that would enable the now globally expanding West to replace the earlier mortal/immortal. the gods/God distinction as the one on whose basis all human groups had mil­ lennially 'grounded" their descriptive statement/prescriptive statements of what it is to be human.264 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom of our modes of being human.' Mignolo's 'colonial difference.e. and the what we are. in effect. on Quijano's "Racism/ Ethnicism" complex. the second from then on until today. and to reground its secularizing own on a newly pro­ jected human/subhuman distinction instead.' redefined in the terms of the Spanish state's theoretical construct of a "by­ nature difference" between Spaniards and the indigenous peoples of the Americas (Padgen 1982): a difference defined in Gines de Sepulveda's six­ teenth-century terms as almost a difference between "monkeys and men:' homunculi and true humans. God. This seeing that if. race-unlike gender (which has a biogenetically determined anatomical differential correlate onto which each culture's system of gendered oppositions can be anchored)-is a purely invented construct that has no such correlate (Quijano 2000). natural/supernatural. The first was from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. human/the ancestors. and of nature as an autonomously functioning force in its own right governed by its own laws (i. HaUyn 1990). the non­ supernatural but no less extrahuman ground (in the reoccupied place of the traditional ancestors/gods. in turn. on the mainlands of the Americas. "Race" was therefore to be. Winant's "race concept. making possible the cognitively emancipatory rise and gradual development of the physical sci­ ences (in the wake of the invention of Manl). . 1:UTSUS solitusnaturae) (Hubner 1983.. ground) of the answer that the secularizing West would now give to the Heideggerian question as to the who. Blumenberg 1983. as Quijano rightly insists. with this. and then of the biological sci­ ences (in the wake of the nineteenth century invention ofMan2). later. These were to be processes made possible only on the basis of the dynamics of a colo­ nizer/colonized relation that the West was to discurSively constitute and empirically institutionalize on the islands of the Caribbean and.

as Pandian docu­ ments. as that of the Human Other to its new "descriptive statement" of the ostensibly only normal human..Sylvia Wynter • In his 1999 Coloniality Working Group conference presentation. negros/negras) into the physical referents of its reinvention of medieval Europe's Untrue Christian Other to its normative True Christian Self.omain were demonized:' However.' correlated "postulate of a significant ill:' and therefore proposed behavior­ motivating "cure" or "plan of salvation" that is defining of all religions [Girardot 1988]). if this new descriptive statement (one that was to gradually privatize as well as harness the matrix Christian identity to the realizing of the modern state's own sec­ ular g(l)als of imperial territorial expansion) was also to be effected on the basis of a parallel series of discursive and institutional inventions. f its epochal redescription as. the anthropologist Jacob Pandian (1985) enables us to ee that this epistemological "disregard" was itself part of an even more cen­ ral imperative-that of the sustainability of the new mode of being human. While. primarily. the physical referents ofthe conception of the Untrue Other to the True Christian Self had been the categories of peoples defined in reli­ 265 . In'ms seminal book. together with the population group of the enslaved peoples of Africa. of its variant of the "formulation of a general order of existence. Anthropology and the Western Tradition: Towards an Authentic Anthropology (1985). Jacob Pandian enables us to see that within the terms of the Judeo-Christian religious creed (within the terms. transported across the Atlantic (classified as Negroes. therefore. was to be that of the West's transformation of the indigenous peo­ ples of the Americas/the Caribbean (culturally classified as Indians..-in anotherd. disre­ garded Amerindian ways of knowing and knowledge production that were reduced to-euriousprac-tices of strange people tmd. Christian. there was one that was to be as novel as it was to be central. which had defined the human as primarily the religiOUS subject of the Church. Walter Mignolo perceptively identified one of the consequences of the "Big Bang" initiation of the "colonial difference" as that of the fact that.. that of the political subject of the tate Man in the transumed and reoccupied place of Latin-Christian urope's founding matrix description. This. Man. "in the imagi­ nary of the modern/colonial world system sustainable knowledge . indios/indias).

While the "Indians" were portrayed as the very acme of the savage. However.. it was to be the peoples of the militarily expropriated New World territories (b~. it was to be the peoples of Black African descent who would be constructed as the ultimate referent of the "racially inferior" Human Other.' now being assimilated to its category-all of these as the ostensible embodiment of the non-evolved backward Others-if to vary­ ing degrees and. that would function to construct all the non-Europeans t. including centrally those of anthropology. with the range of other colonized dark-skinned peoples. Pandian proposes instead that it was to be the discourses of this knowledge. the timeless ethnographic . of the savage Other. So that rather than "sustainable knowledge" merely disregarding the "other ways of knowing" of the Amerindian peoples.ln the wake of the West's reinvention of its True Christian Self in the transumed terms of the Rational Self of Manl. Nevertheless. as Pandian further explains. the negation of the generic "normal humanness.-Indians).266 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom gious terminology as heretics. all classified as "natives. or as Enemies-of-Christ infidels and pagan­ idolaters (with Jews serving as the boundary-transgressive "name of what is evil" figures. as the descriptive statement that would be foundational to modernity. however.9't encountered (including those whose lands its settlers expropriated and those whom they enslaved or enserfed) as the physical referent of. pari passu with its reinvention of in Man now purely biologized terms." ostensibly expressed by and embodied in the peoples of the West. irrational Other. in the wake of the West's second wave of imperial expansion. stigmatized as Christ-killing deicides). as such. the "Negroes" were assimilated to the former's category. its irrational or subrational Human Other to its new "descriptive statement" of Man as a political subject. the abnormal Other. to this first degodded (if still hybridly reli­ gio-secular) "descriptive statement" of the human in history.-aswell asthe enslaved peoples-ofBlaek Africa (i. the fossil Other. as Mignolo contends. in the first phase.e . that were made to reoccupy the matrix slot of Otherness-to be made into the physical referent of the idea of the irra­ tional/subrational Human Other. in the terms of the multiple mythologies.• Negroes). if the range of Native Others were now to be classified. represented as its most extreme form and as the ostensible missing link between rational humans and irrational animals.

and thereby (as such) divinely condemned to be fixed and unmoving at the center of the universe as its dregs because the abode of a post-Adamic "fallen" mankind had been an indispensable function of the "verifying" of medieval Latin-Christian Europe's then theocentric descrip­ tive statement of human as "sinful by nature:' In this way. Gregory Bateson and Frantz Fanon. into an indispensable function of the enacting of our present Darwinian "dysselected by Evolution until proven otherwise" descriptive statement of the human on the biocenuic model of a~naturalorganism. the descriptive statement on which the hegemony of the world of the Church over the lay world was legitimated (Chorover 1979). several centuries on. All of this was done i:. and dynami­ cally produced material deprivation thereby serving both to "verify" the overrepresentation of Man as if it were the human. social inferiorization.Sylvia Wynter • Other. In an essay entitled "Conscious ~urpose vs." published in 1969.With 1:hiS'popuJ lation group's systemic stigmatization. as these terms are elaborated by the disciplinary paradigms and overall organization of knowledge of our present episteme (Foucault 1973). were both to put forward new conceptions of the human outside the terms of our present ethnoclass conception that define it on the model ofa natural organ­ ism. law1ik. To put it another way. Bateson proposed that in the same way as the "physiology" and "neurology" of the human individual function in order to conserve the body and all the body's physical characteristics-thereby serving as an overall system that con­ serves descriptive statements about the human as far as his/her body is con­ cerned-so a correlated process can be seen to be at work at the level of the psyche or the soul. thinking and writing during the upheaval of the anticolonial/social-protest movements of the sixties." a matter ontologically different from that which attested to the perfection of the heavens. not only is the descriptive state­ ment of the psyche/soul determinant of the kind of higher-level learning 267 .-manner~rthe systemic stigma­ tization of the Earth in terms of its being made of a "vile and base matter. and to legitimate the subordination of the world and well-being of the latter to those of the for­ mer. Nature. It is this population group who would come to be made. the most salient of all these was to be that of the mythology of the Black Other of sub-Saharan Mricans (and their Diaspora descendants).

Other. was there anything arbitrary about this deliberate blocking out or disregard of a "Black" voice.J( J/~ lJ ~ l ~ 4­ ~ . imperatively. 1981). ~ &-_. of a positive Black self-conception.. as a result of the structures of Bateson's system of learning designed to preserve the status quo. I J . in the terms of our pres­ ent ethnoclass mode of sociogeny.268 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Belng/Power/Truth/Freedom that must take place. the Antillean Negro had indeed been socialized to be normally anti­ Negro. dictates that Self. at the level of the psyche/soul. no Black counter­ voice had been allowed to exist). must therefore function within the terms of what Foucault has identified as a specific "regime" and/or "politics of truth" (Foucault 1980. to conserve that descriptive state­ ment. Fanon had then gone on to analyze the systemically negative represen­ tation of the Negro and of his African past that defined the curriculum of the French colonial school system of the Caribbean island of Martinique in which .he had grown up (one in which. All such learning. Rather this "blocking out" of a Black counter-voice was. the Argument proposes. and is itself defining of the way in which being human. because it is this premise that underlies the interlinked nature of what I have defined (on the basis of Quijano's founding concept of the coloniality of power) as the Coloniality of Being! Power/Truth/Freedom. whether at the microlevel of the indi­ vidual or at the macrolevel of the society. In consequence. as he also notes.~J~~. Nor. Man. but it is also determinant of the overall range of acquired know-how that is produced by the interactions of the wider society in which each indi­ vidual finds itself-and as a sOciety whose overall descriptive statement will necessarily be of the same general order as that of the individual. seeing that the indispensable function of each such system oflearning must be. the Argument will first link this premise to a fundamental thesis developed by Nicholas Humphrey in his book A History ofthe Mind: Evolution and the Birth ofConsciousness. and World should be represented and known. with the logical inference that one cannot "unsettle" 1\ the "coloniality of power" without a redescription of the human outside the terms of our present descriptive statement of the human. in order to reveal why. Y ~. and its overrepresentation (outside the terms of the "natural organism" answer that we give to the question of the who and the what we are).. a lay counter-voice could no more have normally existed within the terms of the mode of sociogeny of medieval Latin­ Christian Europe. I VV!JtrPi(f/l 11' ~.

physical. a Two Culture ru~de ~em . and the humanist royal historian and apologist for the Spanish settlers of then Santo Domingo.. Other. .. the Argument. up to and ..e human... on the other-as a dispute that it will define as one between two descriptive statements of the human: one for which the expansion of the Spanish state was envisaged as a function of the Christian evangelizing mission. Snow when he described our ~~::tf1::.­ mode of sociogeny. It will then link b~ the sixteenth-century dispute~')" between Bartolome de Las Casas. but as well for that of the hierarchical social structures in whose intersubjective field that genre of the human could have alone realized itself.' in the adaptively true terms needed for the production and repro­ duction not only of their then supernaturally legitimated genre of being human. P.~:That therefore. our varying ontogeny/sociogeny modes of being human. before the revolution initiated by the Renaissance humanists. Gines de Sepulveda. and s~cial World is riO less adaptively true as the condition of the continued pro­ duction and reproduction of such a genre of being human and of its order as.. and given the then theocentric descriptive statement that had been instituting of the mode of sociogeny of medieval Latin-Christian Burope. Christian. between the theocentric conception of the human.. basing itself on Fanon's and Bateson's redefinition of the human. the Other for which the latter mission was seen as a function of the imperial expansion of the state. This was the difference identified by C.including our contemporary own. as well as their social. the missionary priest. and organic worlds. .~e&.c~:~r~:~:::=:~:s::tth. -. as inscribed in the terms of each culture's descriptive statement.• the social world) that a crucial difference needs to be identified in our human case. \ Here.. on the one hand. a dispute.. and the new 1\ :~::nist and ratio. the way we at present normatively know Self. proposes that the adaptive truth-for terms in which each purely organic species must know the world is no less true in our human case. Mam (Le..e. And it is with the production and reproduction of the latter (i.. or epistemes. Other. will necessarily give rise to their varying respective modalities of adaptive truths­ for. "(..~ I WW ~?AI v~ } l~~ IV-" vo· \~ ~ V·-rl"'-~· published in 1992. as ~ . its subjects had nor­ matively known Self. ~?" . then. that given the biocentric descriptive statement that is instituting of our present is. Further.r}Lta 5J ~ :~) i\ -"~ ./ 'b ~~ Wy.

therefore. The Argument proposes. and the other that ofoverconsumption-now collectively threaten the planetary environment of our human-species habitat. in the adaptive "truth-for" terms needed to conserve our present descriptive statement. the disci­ plines of the social sciences and humanities still remain unable to explain and predict the parameters of the ensemble of collective behaviors that are instituting of our contemporary world-to explain. whether oriented by the residual metaphysics of fertility/reproduction of the agrarian age in the poorer parts of the world. or by the metaphysics of productivity and profitability of our techno-industrial one in the rich enclaves-with the one impelling the dynamics of overpopu­ lation. the fact remains that while the natural sciences can explain and pre­ dict.no less large-scale human degradation and immis. that the still unbreachable divide between the "Two Cultures" -a divide that had been briefly chal­ lenged by the range of anticolonial as well as the social cum intellectual movements of the sixties.270 • Unsettling the ColoniaJity of Being/Power/Truth/Fro:-edom the natural sciences. on the one hand {whose domains comprise the physical cosmos. as a language-capacitated form of life. but also of the overall Janus-faced effects of large-scale human emancipation yoked to the . And although there has been some attempt recently to rebut the hypothesis of this divide. That is. with this a priori definition serving to orient and motivate the individual and collective behaviors by means ofwhich our contemporary Western world-system or civilization. the why not only of the large-scale inequalities. in this context. and the disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities on the other (Snow 1993). as one that defines us biocentrically on the model of a natural organism. together with its nation-state sub­ . to a large extent. These behaviors. to ensure that we continue to know our present order of social reality. and rigorously so.eration to which these behaviors collectively lead. the behaviors of these nonhuman worlds. as well as that of all biological life}. cen­ trally among these the Gulbenkian Report on the social sciences prepared by a team of scholars headed by Immanuel Wallerstein and Valentin Mudimbe (1994). as all human orders of knowledge have done from our origin on the continent of Africa until today. before these movements were re-coopted-lies in the fact that our own disciplines (as literary scholars and social scientists whose domain is our sociohuman world) must still continue to function.

This was no less the case with respect to the long tradition of Greek! Hellenistic astronomy. as such. in however radically oppositional a manner. onto the physical cosmos. as such. extrahumanly) determined criteria. all such astronomies. the rules of the social order and its sanctioned theories (Konrad and Szelenyi 1979). which was not only subject to change 271 . they had thereby mapped their specific criterion of being human. ofwhat it was "to be a good man and woman of one's kind" (Davis 1992). and the Romans-have mapped their "descriptive statements" or governing master codes on the heavens. which a medieval Judeo-Christian Europe would have inherited. continue to artic­ ulate. meant that all such knowledges of the physical cosmos. their respective truths had necessarily come to function as an "objective set of facts" for the people of that society-seeing that such truths were now the indispensable condition of their existence as such a society. as such people. in doing so. Since.Sylvia Wynter • units. as Western and westernized intellectuals. such as the San people of the Kalahari. produced. Because. China. all such geographies. the range of behaviors they had made possible-indeed. "divinized" cosmos as contrasted with the Earth. This. Recent and still ongoing scholarship on archaeo-astronomy has shown that allbuman -orders-Hom-the smallest -society ofnomadicnunter-gath" erers. and with this enabling them to be experienced by each order's subjects as if they had been supernaturally (and. as such a mode of being human. thereby absolutizing each such criterion. in spite of the great advances in mathematical astronomy to which its fundamental Platonic postulate (that of an eternal. and stably reproduced. are stably produced and reproduced. ethno­ astronomies. to the large-scale societies of Egypt. therefore. whatever the vast range of human needs that they had successfully met. These truths had therefore both com­ manded obedience and necessitated the individual and collective behaviors by means of which each such order and its mode of being human were brought into existence. however sophisticated and complex the calculations that they had enabled to be made of the movements of the heavens (as in the case of Egypt and China)-had still remained adaptive truths-for and. ethno-geographies. on their stable peri­ odicities and regular recurring movements (Krupp 1997). This at the same time as it ensures that we. the Greeks.

With the consequence that their projected premise of a value distinction and principle of ontological distinction between heaven and earth had functioned to analogically replicate and absolutize the central order-organizing principle and genre-of-the-human distinction at the level of the sociopolitical order. the society that made it possible would have to be one that no longer had the need to map its ordering principle onto the physical cosmos. who were citi­ zens. With this value distinction (SOciogenic principle or master code of symbolic life/death) then being replicated at the level of the intra-Greek society.. and women. the "order of perfection investigated by the ancient Greeks" had to become irrelevant. The same goes for the need to retain the Greek premise of an ontolOgical differ­ ence of substance between the celestial realm of perfection (the realm of . and therefore as. for such an astronomy and physics to be developed. the theoretical physicist David Bohm explained why the rise of the physical sciences would have been impossible in ancient Greece. in which the moral/political laws of the Greek polis had been projected upon the physical cosmos. given the role that the physical cosmos had been made to play in sta­ bilizing and legitimating the structures/hierarchies and role allocations of . If each society. to reconcile their measurements of the movements of the heavens with this premise). in order for modem physics (which is based on the "idea of successive posi­ tions of bodies of matter and the constraints of forces that act on these bod­ ies") to be developed. In a 1987 interview." In consequence. but was fixed and unmoving at the center) has led a long line of astronomers to struggle to "save the phenomena" (Le. its social order. enabling them to serve as "objective truth" in ileyerabend's (1987) sense of the term. in gendered terms (correlatedly). who were their dependents. Greek astronomy was to remain an ethno-astronomy. as the Greeks and all other human societies had done. One. this idea of order had been projected as that of an "increasing perfection from the earth to the heavens. between the non-dependent masters who were Greek-born citizens and their totally dependent slaves classified as barbar­ ian Others. Bohm pointed out. in my own terms. adaptive truth­ for the Greeks. as between males. bases itself on a general notion of the world that always contains within it "a specific idea of order:' for the ancient Greeks. In other words. that is.272 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom and corruption.

As if. at the same time. by means of the discourses ofreli­ gion. we have hitherto always done so by producing. as human beings who live in society.Sylvia Wynter • true knowledge) and the imperfect realm of the terrestrial (the realm of doxa. but rather that of Evolution/Natural Selection together with its imagined entity of "Race"). In his recent book The Enigma ofthe Gift (1999). Evolution. the extrahuman agency on which our authorship is now projected is no longer supernatural. as the biologist James Danielli pointed out in a 1980 essay. Although. and to thereby artificially program our own behaviors-doing so. as well as of the secular ones that have now taken their place-still continued to program our hybrid ontogeny/sociogeny behaviors by means of unmediated genetic programs. This imperative has been total in the case of all human orders (even where in the case of our now purely secular order. as Danielli further argued. the recognition also of the self-inscripted. Central to these mechanisms was the one by which we projected our own authorship of our societies onto the ostensible extrahuman agency of supernatural Imaginary Beings (Godelier 1999). Godelier writes. of mere opinion). the mechanisms by means of which we have been. allowing us to repress the recognition of our collective production of our modes of social reality (and with it. auto­ instituted nature of our genres/modes of being human). This would come to be effected only in the wake of the Renaissance humanists' initiation of the processes that would lead to the degodding/de-supernaturalizing of our modes of being human on the basis of their invention of Man in the reoccupied place of their earlier matrix theocentric identity. and who must also produce society in order to live. which pre-adapted us by means of the co-evolution of language and the brain to self-inscript and auto-institute our modes of being human. all suoh behaviors being lawlikely induced by discursively instituted programs whose good/evil formulations function to activate the biochemical 273 . Maurice Godelier reveals an added and even more powerful dimension as to why the mutation by which humans would cease to map the "idea of order" onto the lawlike regularities of physical nature would not be easily come by. This was not a mutation that could be easily effected.able to invert cause and effect. Rather than. the Argument proposes. in our contemporary case. Christian.

based on its master code of the "Redeemed Spirit" (as actualized in the celibate clergy) and the "Fallen Flesh" enslaved to the negative legacy of Adamic Original Sin. at the same time as it would remain mapped onto the same "space of Otherness" principle of nonhomogeneity (Godzich 1986). thereby. and thereby of an ontological distinction between the supralunar and the sublunar. while common to all species. while the classical Greco-Roman (Le. being thereby behaviorally impelled to seek redemption from their enslavement through the sacraments of the Church. as David Bohm pointed out. as actualized by laymen and women. Central to Winant's "immense historical rupture:' therefore. With the result that on the basis of this projection. the "sinful by nature" descrip­ tive statement of the human in whose terms they both experienced themselves as Christians. as the break . Hence the logic by which medieval Latin-Christian Europe's "notion of the world" and "idea of order" would become one of degrees of spiritual perfec­ tion. in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. to its mode of the "I" and correlated symboli­ cally/altruistically bonded mode of the eusocial "we" (Danielli 1980).274 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom reward/punishment mechanism of the brain-as a mechanism that. the Greeks' "idea of order"had been mapped upon degrees of perfection. as well as by adhering to its prohibitions. functions in the case of humans in terms specific to each such narratively inscribed and discursively elaborated descriptive statement and. If. even more centrally. heaven and earth. was the con­ ceptual break made with the Greco-Roman cum Judeo-Christian premise of a nonhomogeneity of substance. the medieval Latin-Christian subject's sensory perception of a motionless earth would have "verified" for them not only the postulate of mankind's justly condemned enslavement to the nega­ tive Adamic legacy.• Ptolemaic) astronomy that had given expression to the Greek idea of order was to be carried over-it was to be Christianized within the terms of Judeo-Christianity's new "descriptive statement" of the human. and to thereby strive to attain to its otherworldly goal-that of Divine Election for eternal salvation in the Augustinian civitas dei (the city of God). projected upon the physical cosmos as degrees of rational perfection extending from the apex of the heavens' degrees to the nonhomogenous nadir of the earth's-with the rise. but. of a now Judeo-Christian Europe.

the one because too hot. Its Omnipotent God had created the world for the sake of His Own Glory. This theological condemnation of the "natural man" of the laity had become even more intensified by medieval Scholasticism's reconception of the human in Aristotelian Unmoved/Mover terms. in the wake of the Adamic Fall and its subsequent enslavement to the Fallen Flesh. the monarchical states') politically absolute own. and therefore natural­ scientific. then to the East).e. thereby creating mankind only contingently and without any consideration for its own sake (propter nos homines/for our human sake). replacing it with that of their (i. was to underpin the rise of the modern political city and monarchical states of Europe. had left it. been made possible only on the basis of the intel­ lectual revolution of Renaissance humanists-a revolution that. The new conceptual ground of this reversal had. together with that of its celibate clergy. however. while allied to the Reform movement of Christian humanism. had been held to be uninhabitable. as well as Columbus's voyages across an until-then held to be (by Western Europeans) non"naYigableAtlantic Ocean (sincebotJI ~fthese areas. with both being outside God's providential Grace) were themselves expressions of the same overall process of self-transformation. was mounted in large part from the counter-perspective of the lay intelligentsia. This as the process that. the chosen) over the lay world-as these par­ adigms had been elaborated in the context of the then hegemonic Scholastic order of knowledge of medieval Europe. Black Africa and the Americas. therefore. over the lay or secular world. of the category whose members had until then been compelled to think and work within the very theocentric paradigms that legitimated the dominance of the post-Gregorian Reform Church and its celibate clergy (the name clergy means. and that (together with an ongoing commercial revolution) were to effectively displace the theologi­ cally absolute hegemony of the Church. in Greek. internal to late­ medieval Latin-Christian Europe. the other because under water. without any hope of being able to have any valid knowledge of reality except through the media­ 275 . mode of cognition with respect to the "objective set of facts" of the physical level of reality: with respect to what was happening "out there:' The fifteenth-century voyages of the Portuguese (to and around Africa. From the viewpoint.Sylvia Wynter • that was to make possible the rise of a nonadaptive.

and this-worldly perspective of a lay world ostensibly entrapped in the fallen time of the secular realm.276 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Seing/Power/Truth/Freedom tion of the very paradigms that excluded any such hope. including the state. therefore. in order to be learned and accom­ plished scholars. by circularly verifying the "sinful by nature" cognitive incapacity of fallen mankind. then having fallen. In this treatise. through that of the theolOgically absolute para­ digms that verified the hegemony of the latter. he had come into existence when God. Adam. as well as the hegemony of the supratemporal perspective of the Church (based on its represented access to Divine Eternal Truth) over any knowledge generated from the local. then having been expelled with Eve from the garden by God. Pico rewrote the Judeo-Christian origin narrative of Genesis. The lay intelligentsia of medieval Europe had. tempo­ ral. they had had to be accomplices in the production of a "politics of truth" that subordinated their own lay world and its perspective on reality to that of the Church and of the clergy. found them­ selves in a situation in whose context. Accomplices also in the continued theoretical elaboration of a theocentric descriptive statement of the human. served at the same time to validate both the hegemony of the Church and of the celibate clergy over the lay world. is shown by Pico to have not fallen at all. in whose terms they were always already the embodied bearers of its postulate of "significant ill"-that of enslavement to Original Sin-an "m" curable or redeemable only through the mediation of the Church and the clergy. Instead. had created Man on a model unique to him. this thereby subjected mankind to the insta­ bility and chaos of the capricious whims of Fortune (Pocock 1989). Given that it was precisely these theologically absolute paradigms that. having completed his Creation and wanting someone to admire His works. commanding him to "make of himself" what he willed to be-to decide for himself whether to fall . then placed him at the center/midpoint of the hierarchy of this creation. The manifesto (put forward from the perspective ofthe laity) that was to make possible the rupture in whose terms the Copernican Revolution and the new epoch that would become that of the modern world were to be made possible was that of the fifteenth-century treatise by the Italian humanist Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) entitled Oration on the Dignity of Man. and circularly. rather than having been placed in the Garden of Eden.

at first.' as that of the Rational Self of Man as political subject of the state. could arbitrarily intervene in the accustomed course of nature (cursus soli­ tus naturae) in order to alter its processes of functioning. the "subject of the church. in order to find both a space outside the terms of the medieval order's "descriptive state­ ment" and an alternative model on which to reinvent the matrix optimally Redeemed-in-the-Spirit Self of the Christian. or. to (in the case of Pico) the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalah. as well as to the even earlier Egyptian thought as transmitted through these latter. only in hybridly religio-secular terms) of the "descriptive statement" in whose terms humans in script and institute themselves/our­ selves as this or that genre of being human. and models by Renais­ sance humanists such as Ficino and Pico. as an absolute and unbound God. as Fernand Hallyn (1990) has pro­ posed. asbefore. the latter could not attempt to gain valid knowledge of physical reality by basing him/herself on the regularity of its laws of functioning. and of its related civic­ humanist reformulation. that was to make possible Copernicus's intellectual challenge to the ontological distinction between the supralunar and sublunar realms of the cosmos: to its foundational premise of a nonhomogeneity of substance between them.Sylvia Wynter • to the level of the beasts by giving into his passions. While it was the revalorization of natural man that was implicit in this overall return to the Greco-Roman and other pre-Christian thought. through the use of his reason. Two strategies were made use of in order to effect this epochal degod­ ding (if. to rise to the level of the angels (See Pico's guide-quote). as Hallyn 277 .mseeking to redeem himself from enslavement to Original Sin by primarily adhering to the prohibitions of the Church.. Seeing that God. The strategy was that of a return: the return by the humanists to Greco-Roman thought. It was therefore to be. as one who displayed his reason by pri­ marily adhering to the laws ~fthe state~rather than. It was therefore to be on the basis of this new conception. that Man was to be invented in its first form as the rational political subject of the state. at any time He wished to do so. by means of mir­ acles. Why was this the case? Within the terms of the medieval order's theo­ centric conception of the relation between a totally Omnipotent God and contingently created humans.

within the conceptual framework of the Christian­ Ptolemaic astronomy of the time. which said that such knowledge was not available for mere mortals) that since the universe had been made for our sake by the best and wisest of master craftsmen.s \ . which. The geography of the earth had also had to be known in parallel Spirit/Flesh terms as being divided up between. its temperate regions centered on Jerusalem-regions that. because outside thi. it was not only the Earth that had to be known in these adaptive truth-for terms. for our human sake). on the other. it had to be knowable (see Copernicus guide-quote). However. In his book The Medieval Imagination. that provided the counter-ground for the Copernican rupture with the orthodox Christianized astronomy that had been inherited from the Greeks. It was the new premise that God had cre­ ated the world/universe for mankind's sake. precisely onto the represented nonhomogeneity of substance between the spiritual perfection of the heavens (whose supralu­ nar bodies were imagined to move in harmonious and perfectly circular motions) as opposed to the sublunar realm of Earth. Jacques Le Goff analyzes the way in which the medieval order of Latin-Christian Europe had organized itself about a value principle or master code that had been actualized in the empirical relation between the celibate category of the clergy (as the embod­ iment of the Spirit. because held up above the element of water by God's Providential Grace. nonarbitrary rules that could be knowable by the beings that He had made it for. in addition. reconceived as a Caring Father who had created the universe specifically for man's sake (propter nos homines. on the one hand. had to be at the center of the universe as its dregs-and. to be not only nonmoving as it is sensed by us to be. but to be so because divinely condemned to be nonmoving in the wake of the Fall. were habitable-and. This Spirit/Flesh code had then been projected onto the physical cosmos. that would lead to Copernicus's declaration (against the epistemological resignation of Ptolemaic astronomy.278 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom proposes. the humanists' revalorized conception of a more egalitarian rela­ tion between natural man and a Christian God. those realms that. as a premise that ensured that He would have had to make it according to rational. as the abode of a post-Adamic fallen mankind. and the noncelibate category of the laity (as the embod­ iment of the Fallen Flesh).

Sylvia Wynter • Grace. Here the Argument identifies Girardot's schemas as ones that also func­ tion beyond the limits of original religious modalities. as the central "machinery of programming" that is common to all human orders. therefore. since ostensibly not held "unnaturally" above the water by Divine Grace. the Torrid Zone beyond the bulge of Cape Bojador on the upper coast of Mrica had therefore had to be known as too hot for habitation. seeing tha t all land there had to remain. with his/her fallen state placing him/her outside God's Grace. ill/cure sys­ tem ofsym bolic representations attached to the represented supra/sublunar nonhomogeneity of substance of the physical cosmos. While this behavior-motivating schema had itself also been anchored on the Spirit/Flesh. together with that statement's overall explanatory thesis of supernatural causation. This series of symbolically coded Spirit/Flesh representations mapped upon the "space of Otherness" of the physical cosmos had not only func­ tioned to absolutize the theocentric descriptive statement of the human. good/evil postulates. Before the fifteenth-century voyages of the Portuguese and Columbus. its master code of symbolic life (the Spirit) and death (the Flesh). been that of mankind's enslavement to Original Sin. able to activate the biochemical reward and punishment mechanism-and. while the Western hemisphere had had to be known as being devoid of land. which disproved this premise of the nonhomo­ geneity of the earth's geography. except when redeemed from this "ill" by the sacrament of baptism as admin­ istered by the clergy. had to be uninhabitable. the postulate of "significant ill" had. It had also served to absolutize "a general order of existence.' together with its "postulate of significant ill. 279 . behavior-moti­ vating/-demotivating.' whose mode of affliction then logically calls for the particular "plan of salvation" or redemptive cure able to cure the specific "ill" that threatened all the subjects of the order. discursive. submerged in its "natural place" under water. Now in specific Judeo-Christian formulation. inside/outside God's Grace. seeing them instead in the terms of Danielli's hypothesis as forms of the central. in order to redeem them from its threat of nihilation/negation that is common to all religions (Girardot 1988). ·in the frame­ work of Christian Aristotelian physics. of course. as well as to the hab­ itable/uninhabitable geography of the earth.

it had been the reinvention by the lay humanists of the Renaissance of the matrix identity Christian in terms of the new descriptive statement of Man as political subject. Secondly.frame~rkitcan therefore -be recognized that it was in the context of the humanists' redescribing of the Christian definition of the human-in new. were to initi­ ate the rupture that would lead to the rise of the physical sciences. and (so to speak) propter nos homines and lor Man-centric terms-that the series of fifteenth­ century voyages on whose basis the West began its global expansion voyages (one of which proved that the earth was homogeneously habitable by humans. projected as the center. . In consequence. all such schemas/programs and their formulations of "a general order of exis­ tence" also function to inscribe the specific "descriptive statement" of the human that is enacting of the ontogeny/sociogeny. for whom the specific ensemble of motivated behaviors will be adaptivelyadvantageous. homogeneous with. these earlier orthodox presuppositions. were expendable.ln thisconceptual. revalorizing. together with Copernicus's new astronomy (which proposed that the earth also moved about the Sun. to a new order of cognition in which "the objective set of facts" of the phys­ icallevel of reality was now to be gradually freed from having to be known in the adaptive terms of a truth-for specific to each order. their truth-fors. as they had been millennially-to be known as they were and are "out there:' What needs to be emphasized here is. Thereby. because no longer of any adaptive advantage to its own instituting as such a mode of being human). that had made the sweep­ ing away of the earlier unquestioned principles of nonhomogeneity possible. seeing that the Torrid Zone was indeed inhabited. nature-culture mode of being human.280 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom whether religious or secular. the heavenly bodies). allied to the historical rise and expansion of the modern state (for whom. that the two orthodox pre­ suppositions that were now to be swept away-that of the nonhomogeneity of the geography of the earth and that of the nonhomogeneity of the earth and the heavens-had been ones indispensable to the conservation of the medieval order's theocentric descriptive statement of the human. eventually. and was therefore of the same substance as. firstly. whether religious or secular. as was that of the land of the Western hemisphere that turned out to be above water).

one could now be able to extrapolate from the bodies nearest to us. in its first secularizing if still hybridly religio-secular terms as Man as the Rational Self and politi­ cal subject of the state. and on the analogy of nature always consonant with itself. of Latin-Christian Europe. This takes us back to the negative aspect ofthe dialectical process ofcul­ ture-historical transformation by which the West was to initiate the first phase of the degodding of its descriptive statement of the human. the peoples of the West would see themselves as one religious genre of the human. even where they were to be convinced that theirs was the only true religion.Sylvia Wynter • 281 This sweeping away led a later Isaac Newton to exult that. . and institutionalize the indige­ nous peoples of the Americas as well as the transported enslaved Black Africans as the physical referent of the projected irrational/ subrational . they would now not only come to overrepresent their conception of the human (by means of a sus­ tained rhetorical strategy based on the topos of iconicity [Valesio 1980]) as the human. because it had now been shown that all parts of the universe were made of the same forces. as Christians. thereby also initiating the processes that were to lead to the development of the new order of nonadaptive cognition that is the natural sciences. what the bod­ ies furthest from us had necessarily to be (Funkenstein 1986). as Lyotard points out. were unable to con­ ceive of an Other to what they called God-as Man. thereby coming to invent. by means of which human knowledge of the phys­ ical cosmos would be freed from having to be known in the adaptive truth­ for terms that had been hitherto indispensable to the instituting of all human orders and their respective modes/genres of being human-the rup­ ture that was to lead to the gradual development of the physical sciences­ had been made possible only by the no less epochal reinvention of Western Europe's matrix Judeo-Christian genre of the human.sumup: this means that the epochal rupture that was set in motion ­ by Western intellectuals. of the same matter. label. in the reoccupied place of the True Christian Self. or mode of sociogeny. and indeed. To . with this rein­ vention being based on the model of Virgil's Roman imperial epic. Since it was to be in the specific terms of this reinvention-one in which while. by the reinvention also of the secular entity of the West in the reoccupied place of the latter.

This central oversight would then enable both Western and westernized intellectuals to systemically repress what Geertz has identified as the "fugi­ tive truth" of its own "local culturality" (Geertz 1983)-of. truth. This at the same time as its genuine difference from all others (i. therefore. and now purely biocentric and homo oeconomicus form of that first invention that was to lead to Winant's "immense historical rupture. transumed. to its correlated postulates of power. What were the specific terms of that first reinvention? Of its overrepre­ sentation? Why were these terms to lie at the basis of the Las Casas/ Sepulveda dispute. from then on. whose empirical outcome-in favor of the latter's humanist arguments as opposed to Las Casas's still theologically grounded ones-was to provide the legitimated 'ground" for what was to become the colonizer (both the metropolitan imperialists and their settler enforcers) vs. With this systemic repression ensuring that we oversee (thereby fail­ ing to recognize) the culture and class-specific relativity of our present mode of being human: Man in the second. its secularizing reinvention of its matrix religious identity from the Renaissance onwards as that of Man in two forms-one ratiocentric and still hybridly religio-secular. colonized relation (both Indians and Negroes.as the lack of the Wes~ont0logicaUy absolute~elf· description. its specific "constitution with a capital C. even non-theorizable within the acultural premise on whose basis it had effected the reinvention of its matrix Christian genre or theological "descriptive statement" of the human.. on the one hand. The West would therefore remain unable. rational self-conception. the other purely secular and biocentric) would remain overseen.adaptively.e. and the set­ . All other modes of being human would instead have to be seen not as the alternative modes of being human that they are "out there. and to Mignolo's modernity/coloniality complementarity. to conceive of an Other to what it calls human-an Other. ontogeny/sociogeny laws or rules." or cultural constitution that underlies and charters our present order.':but ." to Quijano's "Racism/Ethnicism" complex. freedom. as the parallel constitutions of all other human orders that Western anthropologists have brilliantly eluci­ dated underlie and charter all other human orders (Latour 1991)-doing so according to the same hybrid nature-culture. in Bruno Latour's terms.282 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom Human Other to its civic-humanist.

PART II The Las Casas/Seplilve_da Dispute and the Paradox of the Humanists' Invention/Overrepresentation of "Man".. (John Mair's text adopted from Aristotle's Politics] was immediately recognized by some Spaniards as offering a final solution to their problem. -Anthony Pagd8n.e. On the Coloniality of Secular Being. The suggestion that the Indians might be slaves by nature-a suggestion which claimed to answer questions concerning both their political and their legal status-was first advanced as a solution to a political dilemma: by what right had the crown of Castile occupied and enslaved the inhabitants of ter­ ritories to which it could make no prior claims based on history? . humanity and religion of these men." -Gines de SepUlveda (cited by Pagden) 283 ." . every virtue and humanity are as inferior to the Spaniards as children are to adults.Sylvia Wynter • tIers as criollos subjugated to the metropolitan peninsulares-whether those of Spain. almost as monkeys are to men. the Instituting of Human Others.. the savage and fero­ cious [man] to the gentle. "Compare the gifts of magnanimity. Mair had.. instead of on the supposed juridical rights of the conquerors.• the Indians1 in whom hardly a vestige of humanity remains. established that the Christians' claims to sovereignty over certain pagans could be said to rest on the nature of the people being conquered. The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indians and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology Leopoldo is asked to compare the Spaniards with the Indians. I shall say. or France-on the other). He thus avoided the inevitable and alarming deduction to be drawn from an appli­ cation of these arguments: namely that the Spaniards had no right whatso­ ever to be in America.. the grossly intemperate to the continent and tem­ perate and finally. in effect. England. wisdom (ingenium).' continues Democrates. temperance. women are to men. ~who in pru­ dence. "with those homunculi [i.

inferiority complexes. Apologetic History of the Indies I am talking of millions of men who have been skillfully injected with fear. I am sure: [but} there are no nations which call them­ selves civilized and are civilized who do not observe natural law. is not something abom­ inable and contrary to nature. or breaches of. servility. The Second Democrates.. Consequently neither anthro­ pophagy nor human sacrifice constitutes just cause for making war on cer­ tain kingdoms. in its creation of such an innumerable number of rational souls.284 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom The major reason for writing (this book) was that of seeing all and such an infinite number of the nations of this vast part of the world slandered (defamed) by those who did not fear God . Tell me then. despair. abasement. or there will be no nation on earth that cannot be militarily attacked because oftheir sins against. against the natural tendency of all the peoples of the earth ..... For the rest. and therefore.. were deficient in public policy (and) in well­ ordered states (republics) . but is an error that has its origin in natural reason itself. or On the Just Causes of War Against the Indians Clearly one cannot prove in a short time or with a few words to infidels that to sacrifice men to God is contrary to nature.. as if Divine Providence.. had carelessly allowed human nature to so err . as monstrous peoples. Bartolome de Las Casas. -Aime Cesaire. either I am wrong. to sacrifice innocents for the salvation of the Commonwealth is not opposed to natural reason. [and who published] it abroad that the peoples of these parts. -Fr. how many and which nations do you expect to find who fully observe the law of nature? Democrates: Many do. in the case of such a vast part of the human lineage (de linaje humano) as is comprised by these people allowing them to be born lacking in sociality.. the natural law. -Gines de SepUlveda... Discourse on Colonialism' Leopoldo: If a breach of natural law is a just cause for making war. trepidation. were peoples who lacked sufficient reason to govern themselves properly. -Las Casass reply to Gines de Sepulveda!> .

History of the Indies (vol. the human being is simultaneously cre­ ator and creation. he would not have given for the world. -Las Casas. became informed about these methods. before dealing with an issue of which he had no direct knowledge should have sought information from those servants ofGod. of the suffering and damnation of an infinite number of inno­ cent souls... in order to justify the expropriations (iatrocinio) rob­ beries and murders that they have committed. In culture. as well as the usurped social rank to which they have climbed doing so at the cost of the vast torrents of spilled blood. at the time to have been enslaved with a just title. even though he thought the Black slaves. 3) . and it is not at all -certain that his ignorance at the time or even the purity of his motive will sufficiently absolve him when he finds himself before the Divine Judge.. Tratados de Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Third Treatise) The priest Casas having at the time no knowledge of the unjust methods which the Portuguese used to obtain slaves.. once he. advised that permiSSion should be given for the import of slaves into the islands. (the True God as we Christians do) as long as they hold some God to be the true God.. because in the supernatural we have the world of • 285 . in defence of their position/interests]. This is because the mistaken conscience/consciousness (La conciencia erronea) obliges and compels exactly the same way as does the true/a correct one (ia conciencia recta). who have toiled day and night to preach to convert the peoples of the Indies.. in my view.. Doctor SepUlveda. -Las Casas. an advice which. rather than have rushed to pay heed to and give credit to those profane and tyrannical men who.Sylvia Wynter And there is no difference with respect to the duties imposed upon these who do not know him.e. This is what makes culture different from both the natu­ ral and the supernatural.. have persuaded him to write his thesis [i. is what a human being creates and what creates a human being at the same time.. Tratados Culture. and honor him as such. -Las Casas. The remedy which he proposed to import Black slaves in order to liberate the Indians was not a good one.

.286 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom the Creator. transculture frees us from culture. the other the imperializing mission of the state based on its territorial expansion and conquest. -Mikhail Epstein. as well as other pre-Christian sources as a creature standing between "the physical world of nature" and "the spiritual . "Postcommunist Postmodernism: An Interview" About the Pope being the Lord of all the universe in the place of God. The coincidence of these two roles in a human being is what makes him a cultural being. as part of his revalorizing strategy of natural man. Culture frees us from nature. and there­ fore into the field of what Latour would call the West's "constitution with a capital C:' This syncretism had already been at work in the formulations of Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. classical thOUght had enabled him. cultures. for he gave what was not his. from anyone culture. or among. to fuse the original Judeo­ Christian conception of the human as being made in the image of God. and in nature we have the world of creations. one which underpinned the evangelizing mission of the Church.. and that he had given the lands of the Indies to the King of Castille.. rather than merely a Christian/classics opposition. with the view of Platonic philosophy in which man is defined by the fact of the choice that he can give himself to adopt "the sensual life of an animal or the philosophical life of the gods:' Ficino had also defined man in terms derived from both Christian and Platonic.. Nevertheless. that of "Man" as political subject of the state. The king who asked for and received this gift must have been some madman for he asked to have given to him that which belonged to others. was to be instead a syncretized synthesis of the anthropology of the classics drawn into a secularizing Judeo-Christian framework.. which is open to all of them. the Pope must have been drunk when he did it.. the second descriptive statement. For the latter. -Cem11ndians' reply to the Spaniards1 Two different anthropologies and their respective origin models/narratives had inscribed two different descriptive statements of the human. Transculture means a space in.

the "super-celestial" regions with minds (i. or responding to the Creator's call to grow "upward" to "higher" and "divine" natures (Miller 1965). rationality/Irrationality in the reoccupied place of the matrix code of Redeemed Spirit/Failen Flesh. or seeking to be Redeemed-in-the-Spirit through the sacraments ofthe Church. and on the other..' but later become the embodiment of Original Sin) to revalorize the medieval order's fallen natural man by proposing that. angels. The descriptive statement instituting of the humanists' Man would therefore use the Judeo-Christian answer to the what and who we are (i.. a region "filled with a diverse throng ofanimals. pure intelligences). "it par­ takes of some of God's functions" in that it is intended to rule over a "lower order of reality:' The fundamental separation for Pieo was one between two orders of creation. with man placed by God at the midpoint between them. because "God is included in man in that an image embodies and includes its exemplar. the medieval world's idea of order as based upon degrees of spiritual perfection/imperfection. this newly invented Man's choice is that of either growing down­ wards into the lower natures of brutes.Sylvia Wynter • world of the angels of God": as balanced between "natural" and "supernatu­ ral" order. free to be "molder and maker of himself" (see Pico's guide-quote). And this was to be the new "idea of order" on whose basis the coioniality of being. With this redescription. on the one hand. These were. the cast off and residual parts of the lower world.e.e." Placed between these two realms. While reason is not a god. man was the only creature "confined by no bounds:' free to "fIX limits of nature" for himself. was now to be replaced by a new one based upon degrees of rational perfection/imperfection. It was in the context of this syncretized reinscription that the new criterion of Reason would come to take the place of the medieval criterion of the Redeemed Spirit as its transumed form-that the master code of sym­ bolic life ("the name of what is good") and death ("the name of what is evil") would now become that ofreason/sensuality. enacted by the dynamicS ofthe rela­ 287 . the "human created in the image of God." human reason had remained "lord over the senses similar to the way in which God is lord over his creatures:' The relation here is one of analogy. an idea of order centered on the Church. Rather than the medieval Christian's choice of remaining enslaved to the Fallen Flesh and to Original Sin.

. The clash between Las Casas and Sepulveda was a clash over this issue­ the clash as to whether the primary generic identity should continue to be that of Las Casas's theocentric Christian. as the issue of the Colonial Question. the continuum of new categories of humans (i. the Negro Question. With thisreveaUng that.. as the rational (or ratiocentric) political subject of the state (the latter as the "descriptive statement" in whose terms Sepulveda spoke).e. In this transumed reformulation. while the "significant ill" of mankind's enslavement was no longer projected as being to the negative legacy of Adamic Original Sin. was to be brought into existence as the foundational basis of modernity. yet as one that has hitherto had no name. Seeing that because the "m" or "threat" was now that of finding oneself enslaved to one's passions. had effected their now new con­ ception and its related "formulation of a general order of existence" only by transuming that of the Church's matrix Judeo-Christian conception. from the very origin. This redescription had. in turn. thereby carrying over the latter's schematic structure. to the irrational aspects of mankind's human nature. salvation/redemption could only be found by the sub­ ject able to subdue his private interests in order to adhere to the laws of the . in its two variants­ the issue of its still ongoing production/reproduction in the form of the second variant. the iSS1:1e-of race. was and is fun­ damentally the issue of the genre of the human. now. And this clash was to be all the more deep-seated in that the human­ ists. mestizos and mulattos to which their human/subhuman value differ­ ence gave rise).288 • Unsettling the CoJoniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom tion between Man-overrepresented as the generic. enabled the new behavior-motivating "plan of salvation" to be secularized in the political terms of the this-worldly goals of the state. as well as many of its residual meanings. the concept of enslavement was carried over and redescribed as being. Indians and Negroes). ostensibly supracultural human-and its subjugated Human Others (Le. the Nonwhite/Native Question. together with. or that of the newly invented Man of the humanists. as Quijano notes. while going back to the classics and to other pre-Christian sources in order to find a model of being human alternative to the one in whose terms the lay world was necessarily subordinated. to the particularistic desires of one's human nature. Man.

and thereby to the "common good:' This meant that the primary behavior-motivating goal. as defended by Las Casas from a universalistic Christian per­ spective. sensual nature as embodied in the latter. only incipiently emergent. This at . rather than that of seeking sal­ vation in the civitas dei. The Tempest. together with the new "idea of order" as that of degrees of rational perfection in place of the 289 . and to the expanding mercantilism with its extra-European territorial conquests. And while Miranda as woman. was replaced by the new ethic of "reasons of state:' as the ethic car­ ried by a Sepulveda whose civic humanist values were still.the same time as tbeprimacy of the -earlier religious ethic. that is.Sylvia Wynter • politically absolute state. of seeking to ensure the stability. The drunken sailors. reasons-of-state) had now to be the overriding imperative. Stephano and Trinculo. the central opposition is represented as being between Pro spero and Caliban. However. In the plot of The Tempest. and irrational. between Higher Reason as expressed in the former. like Caliban. is shown as poised at midpoint between rational and irrational nature. and as a young girl. order. that is. she is pre-assured of attaining to the former status because of her father's tutor­ ing. that is. been shown as embodying that enslavement to the irrational aspects of human nature (if to a lesser degree than the lat­ ter) which Prospero must repress in himself if he is to act as a rational ruler. the major this-worldly goal. on-the-ground processes that were to lead to the rapid rise of the centralizing state. the other the less well-known play by Spain's Lope de Vega. one for whom the securing of the stability and order of the state (in effect. had also. was now that of adhering to the goal of the civitas saecularis (Pocock 1975): the goal. at the time. written at roughly the same time and entitled The New World Discovered by Christopher Columbus. it is the latter ethic that. Nowhere is this mutation of ethics seen more clearly than in two plays written in the first decades of the seventeenth century: one the well-known play by Shakespeare. exponentially accelerated was soon to triumph and become the accepted doctrine of the times. 8 to its replacement of the medieval system-ensemble with its monarchical own (Hubner 1983). This master code of rational nature/irrational nature. given the existen­ tial sociopolitical and commercial. and territorial expansion of the state in a competitive rivalry with other -European states.

more clearly than does Lope de Vega's Counter Reformation one. There. on the one hand. is the profound shift in the grounds oflegitimacy of which Sepulveda had been the proponent in the 1550S dispute with Las Casas. but rather of mastery over their own sen­ sory. even where syncretized with the earlier religious ethic within the con­ text of Spain's Counter Reformation order of discourse. Ferdinand and Isabel. the Human Other figures to the generic human embodied in Prospero and in the Catholic king and queen are made to embody the postulate of "significant m"of enslavement to the lower. like Shakespeare's Caliban and Lope de Vega's DulcanquelHn. the shift in the terms by which the latter's ongOing expropriation of New World lands and the subsequent reduction of the indigenous peoples to being a landless. to the "irrational" ·Moorish prince of Granada-who is shown dallying with the sensual pleasures of love while Ferdinand and Isabel capture Granada. the rational/irrational master code contrasts the rational Christian king and queen of Spain. the generic human bearer-figures of the politically rational are made to actualize the new. of all those Human Other categories who. rightless. is shown to be as justly expropriated of his sovereignty.lO neo-serf work force-together with the accelerated mass slave trade out of Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean and the instituting of the large-scale slave plantation system that that trade made possible-will be made to seem just and legitimate to its peoples. and most totally SO.9 to the "irrational" because tyrannical Arawak cacique who. That is. the way in which this shift will be . In addition. transumed formulation and its conception of freedom as having no longer mastery over Original Sin (as well as over those Enemies-of-Christ who as such remain enslaved to it). dis­ placing him ("Orientalism" has an even longer history than Said has traced!)-and on the other. and his religion as Caliban is "justly" expropriated of his in The Tempest. sensory aspects of "human nature:' At the same time. his lands. because of his forcible abduction of the bride-to-be of one of his subjects. as opposed. is also seen to be at work in Lope's play. In both plays. and that were now being instituted in early seventeenth-century Western Europe.290 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom earlier degrees of spiritual perfection. irrational nature-and. But perhaps what Shakespeare's Reformation play reveals. as well. are stig­ matized as remaining totally enslaved to theirs. therefore.

As Valentin Mudimbe documents in his The Invention ofAfrica (1988). and so legitimately expropriated by Christian kings (Mudimbe 1988).by means of several papal bulls that defined these lands as ones that. therefore. could not'conceive of an Other to what it experienced as being human. --. because not belonging to a Christian prince. whether those of Africa or those of the New World. because a monotheistic conception. were terra nullius ("the lands of no one"). was carried out within the order of truth and the self-evident order of consciousness. of a creed-specific conception of what it was to be human-which. of Quijano's "Racism/ Ethnicism" complex) will be effected. and of the order of knowledge to which that statement gave rise. ostensibly. therefore. whose truth they believed to be as supernaturally ordained as we now believe ours to be ''objective'' because. This means that the large~scale accumulation of unpaid land. and overall wealth expropriated by Western Europe from non­ European peoples. they were so seen within the terms of the adaptive truth-for of their "local culture's" still hegemonic descriptive state­ ment of the human. its notion of freedom. all the concessions of non­ European lands by the pope to the Portuguese and Spanish sovereigns were effected . and there­ fore an Other to its truth. In other words. in the case of Africa. And. supraculturally true.-----------~.--­ Sylvia Wynter / • linked to another shift (one by which Western Europe's categorization of the "Indians" and "Negroes" in now secular rather than in the earlier religious terms of Otherness: the new terms. which was to lay the basis of its global expansion from the fifteenth century onwards. almost totally so in the case of the Americas)-were initially seen as just and legitimate in Christian theological terms. all the actions that were to be taken by European~Christians-their enslavement of non-Christians whom they first classified in theological terms as Enemies-of-Christ. beginning in 1444 with the Portuguese landfall on the shores of 8enegaiWest Africa. Its subjects could therefore see the new peoples whom it encountered in Africa and the New World only as the "pagan-idolators:' as "Enemies-of-Christ" as the Lack of its own nar­ 291 . as the truth of the "single culture" in whose theo­ centric terms they thought and acted (Epstein 1993). together with their expropriation of the lands of the peoples on both continents (limitedly so. at that time. In these terms. unpaid laber.

This was the case with the Congolese who. had pro­ vided the framework in whose terms their ostensibly "lands of no one/terra nullius" had been seeable as justly expropriable. seeing the white skin oftheEuropeansasasig~nofmon­ strous deviance to their Bantu genre/norm of being human. Anthony Pagden has excellently documented the shift that would eventually take place in the grounds oflegitimacy in whose terms Europeans were to see themselves as justly expropriating the lands and liv­ ing space of the indigenous peoples of the New World. In this context. thereby incorporating them into the theological system of legitimacy-which. at first. the Spanish sovereigns had soon become impatient with the papacy's claim to temporal as well as to spiritual sovereignty.292 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom rative ideal. one correlated with the challenge of the then ascendant modern European monarchical state to the centralizing post-Gregorian hegemony of the Church. The creation of this secular slot of Otherness as a replacement for the theocentric slot of Otherness in which non-European peoples had been clas­ sified in religious terms as Enemies-of-Christ. as set out in the papal bulls from the 1455 Romanus Pontifex onwards. however. It set in motion the secularizing rein­ vention of its own matrix Christian identity as Man. For the Europeans. This shift. in the Otherness slot of the gods or the ancestors. would occur as a direct result of the fact that while. as he shows. pagan-idolators. the Spanish state had depended on the pope's having divided up the New World between Spain and Portugal. classified them together with their deceased ancestors (Axelson 1970). was one that defined the lat­ ter in terms of their ostensible subhuman status (Sahlins 1995). In conse­ . The non-Europeans that the West encountered as it expanded would classity the West as "abnor­ mal" relative to their own experienced Norm of being human. into which they could classity these non-European populations. in the wider context of the overall sociopolitical and cultural transformation that had been set in motion in Western Europe from the Renaissance onwards. and they themselves justly enslavable as such pre-classified populations-was taking place. This was consequential. however. doing this in exchange for the promise that their respective states would help to further the evangelizing mission of Christianity. the only available slot of Otherness to their Norm.

" This was. the Spanish mission­ ary priest. This proposal was that African slaves. they could not (within the terms of the orthodox theology of the Church) be classified as Christ­ Refusers.e.Sylvia Wynter • quence.. whom he then believed to have been acquired with a just title. since Christ's apostles had never reached the New World. to lead him to make a fateful proposal. He had then given them the mandate that they should come up with new grounds for Spain's sovereignty. Which meant that because they could not have ever refused to hear the Word. The fact that the theological grounds of the legitimacy both of Spain's sovereignty over the New World and of its settlers' rights to the indigenous people's lands (as well as of the latter's right. in the early period. wanting to claim temporal sovereignty for himself as he set out to institute the first Western European world empire. had summoned several councils comprised of jurists and theologians. King Ferdinand of Spain. one that was to provide the charter ofwhat was to become the Black-diasporic presence in the Americas. that the indigenous peoples could be enserfed or even ell8laved where necessary-had come to founder upon a stubborn fact. The obstacle was this: all the basic concepts of the theological system of legitimation-i. This proposal. never preached the Word of the Gospel to them. that the lands of non-Christian princes were terra nullius and as such justly expropriable by Christian princes. which moved outside the limits of the sov­ ereignty over the temporal world claimed by the papacy. should be brought in limited numbers as a labor force to replace the Indians. forced-labor regime of the Spaniards was a struggle waged precisely on the basis ofthe fact that such subjection could not be carried out with a "just title. to save the Caribbean Arawaks from the ongoing demographic catastrophe that fol­ lowed both their infection by new diseases to which they had no immunity and their subjection to the harsh. which kick-started what was to be the almost four-centuries­ 293 . This was that the indigenous peoples of the New World could not be classified as Enemies-of-Christ. and they themselves enslaved and/or enserfed with a "just title:' The life-long struggle of Bartolome de Las Casas. therefore. in the wake of his 1514 conversion experience. their lands justly taken. to carry out slave-trading raids on the American mainland) had come upon a central obstacle made this matter all the more urgent.

written in Latin. The Spanish state's primary imperative. who was king over the world. But by then. with it. Should they refuse (thereby making themselves Christ-Refusers and . who had in tum granted the lands of their "barbarous nations" to the king of Spain. they would be unharmed. If they accepted the king's sovereignty together with conversion. together with their acceptance of Christ's Word and. so that they could then be later classified as having refused it. had therefore been the result of his struggle not to replace "Indians with Africans.294 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom long slave trade out of Africa. was to bitterly repent of his proposal. and therefore as Enemies-of-Christ. of realizing its imperial goals of sovereignty over the new lands. when he later found out that the African slaves had been no less ruthlessly acquired outside the terms of the same just titles than had been the Indians. however. Las Casas had thought and acted in the terms of his Christian evangel­ izing imperative. ashe thought at the time. The expedi­ tionaries had been sent to give the indigenes the choice of accepting the king of Spain's sovereignty over their lands. the mass slave trade from Africa across the Atlantic that would give rise to today's transnational Black Diaspora had taken on a life and unstoppable dynamic of its own. who.had sent the expedition members as his emissaries. to replace those whom he knew from first hand to have been enslaved and enserfed outside the "just title" terms of orthodox Christian theology withother. claSSificatory terms would have it-but rather. Its jurists had.swhom. at first attempted to get around the Enemies-of-Christ obstacle by means of a judicial document called "The Requisition" C'Requerimento"). of conversion to Christianity. The document proclaimed to the indigenes that Christ. the Requisition was supposed to be read out to groups of assembled indigenes by a notary who was to accompany any slave-raiding. This document was intended to ensure that the indigenes in question literally heard the Word of the Christian Gospel. had granted this sovereignty to the pope.' as Liberal historians who think in biocentric. within the theo­ logieal terms in which Las Casas thought and fought. had been acquired within the terms of those "just titles:' The cited passage (see Las Casas guide-quote) reveals that Las Casas. land-expropriating expedition that sailed from the first settled Caribbean islands to the mainland. A hybridly theologico-juridical document. was that of its territorial expansion. in this context.

and law­ likely so within the terms of their lour order-specific modes of adaptive cog­ nition-for.e. the one descriptive statement that is the condition of us being in the mode of being that we are (Epstein 1993). What is of specific interest here is not only that it was this initial.Sylvia Wynter • Enemies-of-Christ). he stated that a 295 . justly enslaved-their lands justly expropriated. captured. Since it was only in the terms of what could seem just and legitimate to a specific genre of being human that the lands of non-Christian and non-European peoples could have been seen as the pope's to give. which is that of our still-unresolved issue of con­ sciousness (McGinn 1999) was one that Las Casas brilliantly touched upon when. one­ sided accumulation of lands. large-scale. Seeing that what we also come upon is the nature ofour human cognitive dilemma. the dilemma is how. we can be enabled to free ourselves from our subordination to the one culture.• the premise that the Earth was nonhomogeneously divided into habitable within God's Grace and uninhabitable outside it. referring to the Aztecs' practice of human sacrifice. outside the "local cultural" field of what was then Western Europe. or system of ethno-knowledge. power. truth-for. or the king of Castile's to take. that was no less non-veridical outside the viewpoint of its subjects than the premise the Portuguese and Columbus's voyages had only recently dis­ proved-i. but also that this primary accumulation had been effected on the basis of a truth-for. in Epstein's terms. to use Marshall Sahlins' phrase (if somewhat inverting its meaning) "natives think" (Sahlins 199~). Seen from hindsight. what the Cenu are saying (see Cenu/Greenblatt guide-quote) is that. the reported reply by the Cenu peoples on the mainland to one such expedition opens a transcultural cognitive frontier onto the way in which. If Las Casas was to write that on reading this doc­ ument he did not know whether to laugh or cry. the speech of the Requisition was "mad and drunken": speech that was meaningless. and therefore outside the adaptive truth-for terms of its monarchical-Christian genre of being human. they would be attacked. one that is the very condition oftheir/our existence as hybridly nature-culture beings. and unpaid labor by the West that was to provide the basis for today's 20180 wealth and power ratio between the world's peoples. That vast dilemma. wealth.

the projected "space of Otherness was now to be mapped on phenotypical and religio-cultural dif­ ferences between· human variations and/or population groups. A new notion of the world and "idea of order" was being mapped now. This neo-Aristotelian formula had been proposed by the Scottish theologian John Mair. from early on. It was here that the modern phenomenon of race. together with the mass­ enslaved peoples of Africa. initiated th~adoption ·0£ newgr()unds oflegitimacy that were to eventually make the Requisition document unnecessary.296 • Unsettling the CoJoniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom mistaken (i. as degrees ostensibly ordained by the Greco-Christian cultural construct deployed by Sepulveda as that of the "law of nature. adopted from The Politics of Aristotle. not only the Cenu Indians. However. the Spanish Crown had. extrahumanly determined classificatory principle and mechanism of domi­ nation (Quijano :woo)..' "nat­ . by extrapolation. The councils of jurists/theologians that King Ferdinand set up for this purpose had come up with a formula that.' and as such having to be known in the adaptive terms needed by human orders to represent their social structures as extrahumanly determined ones. no longer upon the physical cosmos-which beginning with the fifteenth­ century voyages of the Portuguese and Columbus. In con­ sequence. but would also effect a shift from the Enemies-of-Christ/Christ­ Refusers system of classification to a new and even more powerfully legitimating one. if still in its first religio-secular form. was first invented. as a new.e. were now to be reclassified as "irrational" because "savage" Indians. between Christian Europeans and Negroes. and as "subrational" Negroes. but the Spaniards themselves had also come to realize the invalid nature of their attempt to get around the theological concept of Enemies-of-Christ. in the terms of a for­ mula based on an a-Christian premise of a by-nature difference between Spaniards and Indians. was eventually to be freed from having to serve as a projected "space of Otherness. and. as well as with the new astronomy of Copernicus. adaptive) consciousness/conscience impels and obliges no less than does a true one. as Pagden tells us. would not only enable the master trope of Nature (seen as God's agent on Earth) to take the latter's authorita­ tive place. For the indigenous peoples of the New World. Instead. while the new idea of order was now to be defined in terms of degrees of rational per­ fection/imperfection.

With. The quite Other form oflife and mode of being human of the indigenous peoples were therefore simply seen by the Spaniards as the irra­ tional Lack of their own.Sylvia Wynter • ural law": as a "law" that allegedly functioned to order human societies in the same way as the newly discovered laws of nature served to regulate the processes of functioning of physical and organic levels of reality. therefore. who defended their claims (against the opposition of the Dominican missionaries and. as well as of its settlers' rights both to the land and to the labor of the Indians. Gines de Sepulveda. the thesis of a by-nature difference in rationality (one transumed today into a by-Evolution "difference" in a sub­ stance called I. with the latter's complex and well-organized imperial civilization­ one.' one able to replace the Christian/Enemies-of-Christ legitimating difference. as in the case of the Aztecs. who sought to put an end to the encomienda labor system)-the vast difference that existed in religion and culture between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples was clear evidence of the latter's lack of an ostensibly supraculturaI natural reason. 297 .Q. which attached groups of Indians to settlers as a neo­ serHorm of labor. For while Mair does not specifically use the term rational. It is. the very humanist strategy of returning to the pagan thought of Greece and Rome for arguments to legitimate the state's rise to hegemony. however. the institution of the encomienda system. together with the institution of the slave plantation sys­ tem manned by "Negroes" coming to centrally function so as to produce and reproduce the socioeconomic and ontological hierarchies of the order as if indeed they had been mandated by the ostensibly extrahuman agency of "natural law:' For the settlers-as well as for their humanist royal historian and chap­ lain. of Las Casas. in consequence. So that even when confronted. that now provides a model for the invention of a by-nature differ­ ence between "natural masters" and "natural slaves. centrally so.) was to be central to the new legitimation of Spain's right to sovereignty. outside the limits of the t-emporal sovereignty claimed by the papacy. based on the central institution of large-scale human sacri­ fice-Sepulveda was able to argue that this practice by itself was clear evidence of the Aztecs' lack of "natural reason": of their having therefore been determined by "natural law" to be the "natural slaves" of the Spaniards.

rather than giving proof of the Aztecs' lack of rational reason. in his formal dispute with Sepulveda in 1556. one of the earliest attempts at a transcultural mode of thinking-one that was almost hereti­ cal to his own Christian religious beliefs. and from the perspective of his own univer­ salist Christianity and evangelizing imperative. This. and rational act. This at the same time as the new identity of the "political sub­ ject" (one defined by a "reasons-of-state ethic. given that to the Aztecs human sacrifice. "the sacrifice of innocents for the good of the commonwealth.' which instead used the Church for its own this-worldly purpose) came to take center stage-the new identity of which intellectuals like Sepulveda were now the bearers. their false gods for the true One) as the Spanish set­ tlers' expropriation of the·indigenous peoples' lands and the enserfment of their lives/labor would come to seem just and legitimate to them within the adaptive truth-for and incipiently secular terms of the new "reasons-of­ state" legitimation now being put forward by Sepulveda. In consequence. He had counter-argued that the Aztec:rpraeticilof human sacrifice was a religious practice that. and the identity that he had experienced as primary-that of being a Christian (an identity that had impelled him to do "all that one ought to as a Christian:' which for him had centrally included m8king use of the state as a means of evangelizing the Indians) were increasingly being made secondary. just. an act that had been seen as being as righteous and virtuous by the Aztecs in their adaptive truth-for terms (based on their having mistaken. once he had been informed by his fellow Portuguese missionaries of the unjust and rapacious methods used by the Portuguese to acquire African slaves. but was also one that had seemed to them to be a pious and virtuous one.298 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom In opposition to this thesis. the humanist counter-discourse of the latter. which functioned in the terms of this new descriptive statement and of its "rea­ sons-of-state ethic. In effect. would lead him to confess that his proposal put his own soul in mor­ tal danger). The universally applicable Christianity in the terms of whose schema of Divine Election and Damnation Las Casas waged his struggle (terms that.' now became the new "common sense" (as we see it . proved itself to be an error of reason itself. from Las Casas's Christian perspective.' was a practice that was not only seen by them to be a legitimate. Las Casas was to put for­ ward.

the religious practices of the Aztecs were. for the humanist Sepulveda. transcultural modes of cognition. this could no longer be the case. but also as being human. pre­ Darwinian era.Sylvia Wynter • enacted in Shakespeare's The Tempest) of the pre-Enlightenment. As such. universally applicable mode of being human. even where transforming the pagan gods into the satanic figure of their Christian Devil-for the human­ ists' "Man. Seeing that once its "descriptive statement" had been instituted as the only. from then on until today. of humanity. in the context of his struggle against both Mair's and Sepulveda's 299 . like the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean. they would remain unable. While. as Christians. It was therefore within the terms of this new "common sense"-and in the context of his defense of the settlers' rights to the lands and enserfed labor of the indigenous peoples. And while a Las Casas. had compelled its missionaries to engage in tran­ screedal. Westerners could see other peoples as also having gods (even if. defining it as one based not only on dif­ ferential degrees of rationality. super-creedal human itself. in neo-Sepulvedan terms as forms of Human Otherness. but which had also been one carried by a Church that had been engaged for hundreds of years in Europe itself in the Christianizing conver­ sion of pagan peoples. Hence the logic by which. which not only knew itself to be creed­ specific. necessarily "false" ones as contrasted with their "true" and single One).' overrepresented as the supracultural. "crimes against humanity:' breaches of the ostensible universally applicable "natural law. as subjects defined by the identity Man. the New World peoples had to be seen and constructed. if to varying degrees. Here we see the fatal error attendant on the West's degodding of its reli­ gious Judeo-Christian descriptive statement of the human at its clearest."­ a law that imposed a by-nature divide between "civilized" peoples (as true generic humans who adhered to its Greco-European cultural construct) and those. as well as of the Crown's right to wage just war against the latter if they resisted its sovereignty-that Sepulveda further elaborated Mair'sproposed legitimating ofneo­ Aristotelian by-nature difference. And where the matrix Christian conception of the human. so to speak. of (to paraphrase Lyotard) conceiving an Other to what they call human (Lyotard 1990). for them. to a now secularizing West's own. who did not. increasingly by all Europeans. this was not possible.

based on the new descriptive statement of the human. Instead. which was now to be mapped onto a projected. and was to legitimate its relation . therefore. As a result. would see. articulating its master code of sym­ bolic life and death. forms of life. this "slandering" both of Indians and of Negroes can be seen in its precise role and function. its now hegemonic. that their systemic classifying of the indigenous peoples as "by nature" different from. and single own).300 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom theses. in Peter Carlo's term. Man. as shown in the quote from Sepulveda. in other words. of humanity) between dif­ ferent populations. seen from a transcultural perspective in the context of the "local cultural field" of a Judeo-Christian/Latin-Christian Europe that was in the process of reinstituting itself as the secular imperial entity. That is. their religions. secularizing. their (in his terms) deliberate "slandering" of an entire population. And as one whose foundational premise of nonhomogeneity. ostensibly divinely created difference of substance between rational humans and irrational animals. had been mapped onto the physical cosmos) to the new rational/irrational organizing principle and master code. landless and rightless)-this "slandering" was never­ theless not arbitrary. incorporating the rest (the majority of whom it would come to dominate in terms of their differential degrees of distance from. and inferior to. cultures. the West's own self-conception. their modes of being human. would also come to be mapped at another "space of Otherness" level. as a lawlike part of the systemic representational shift being made out of the order of discourse that had been elaborated on the basis of the Judeo-Christian Spirit/Flesh organizing principle (one in whose logic the premise of nonhomogeneity. This level was that of a projected Chain of Being comprised of differential/hierarchical degrees of rationality (and thereby. of a "large part of God's Creation" had the directly instrumental purpose of subordinating the peoples whom they slandered in order to expropriate their lands and to reduce them as a population to enserfed encomienda labor (to render them. as pri­ marily a political subject-of. and as almost subhuman-that further. it was a constitutive part of the new order of adaptive truth-for that had begun to be put in place with the rise to hegemony of the modern state. or nearness to. from his own universalist-Christian perspective. the Spaniards. the West. And while the West placed itself at the apex.

and this fact was a partial cause of this differential. or at least. This factor was that of the role that the black skin and somatotype of peoples of African hereditary descent had been made to play. that is. for centuries. by theJate 15308. some more so. it was to be the figure of the Negro (i. "are all black in color. therefore. between rational humans and irrational animals. if not altogether de facto. While "indios'! and "negros. there was also. in developing the symbolic systems of their monotheistic creeds. were to be both made into the Caliban-type referents of Human Otherness to the new rational self­ conception of the West. An account of the early seventeenth-century kingdom of the Congo.• the category comprised by all peoples of Black African hereditary descent) that it was to place at the nadir of its Chain of Being. and of not-quite-human­ ness.' Teruel wrote. And while the fact that the "Indians" were.Sylvia Wynter • of dominance over them all in the terms of its single culture's adaptive truth­ for. to which each group was to be relegated within the classificatory logic of the West's ethnocultural field. in the elaboration of monotheistic Christianity. reveals the above parallel. not black-skinned. transcultural perspective. all ofwhich had been religions instituted by population groups who were white-skinned. it would be the "Negroes" who would be consigned to the pre-Darwinian last link in the Chain of Being-to the "missing link" position. if still secondary "native" ones) at the same time as the "Negroes" would continue to constitute the only outrightly enslaved labor force. written by a Spanish Capuchin missionary priest (Father Antonio de Teruel). With the result that the intellectuals of these groups. Many are to be seen who are the color of chestnut and some tend to be more olive-colored. The indigenous peoples of the Congo. lower even than that of Sepulveda's New World homunculi. free (and as such vassals of the Crown like the Spaniards. thereby providing us with a transgenre­ of-the-human. as well as in all three monotheisms. From the beginning. therefore (as Poliakov notes). a marked differential in the degrees of subrationality. declared to be de jure. on a rung of the ladder lower than that of all humans. there was an additional major and powerful factor. in the same way as the Bantu -Congolese had done in developing their polytheistic own. But the one who is of the 301 . had come to define these symbols in the terms of their own somatotype norm.e. some less so.' Indians and Negroes.

followed by their expansions into the Atlantic. as well as being condemned to slavery"-in Europe. Unlike the Bantu-Congolese ethno-specific conception." (Teruel '1. But they do not want us to call them negroes (negros) but Blacks (Prietos): amongst them only slaves are called negroes and thus amongst them it is the same things to say negro as to say slave" (Teruel (1663~1664) Ms. As a result. as the historian Fernandez­ Armesto noted in his description of the "mental horizons" of Christian Europeans at the time of their fourteenth-century expansion into the Mediterranean.' Black Mricans had been already classified (and for cen­ turies before the Portuguese landing on the shores of Senegal in 1444) in a category "not far removed from the apes. it had come to be elaborated in terms that were specific to Christianity.. the "diabolical color. This occurs because their mothers make use of the artifice of an ointment . children in those areas.302 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom deepest black in color is held by them to be the most beautiful. defining their God(s) and symbol systems as the only "true" ones. had become the preferred color for the depiction of "demons" and the Signification of "sin"-the signifying . however. no less than our children here are terrified by the sight of a black also fleeing in horror from them. exposing them once they have been anointed.663-64: empha­ sis added) Given the fact that a black skin is so highly regarded among them. and repeating this action over and over . as man made degenerate by sin:' And while the roots of this projection had come from a biblical tradition common to all three monotheisms-that is. the monotheists had projected their respective creeds as universally applicable ones.. where a white has never been seen before. in the terms of those "horizons.. In this elaboration. fleeing in horror from us. but as they grow older they become darker and darker. then leaving them there for long periods. "that the sons of Ham were cursed with blackness. Some are born somewhat light-skinned. with which they anoint their infants. With the result that. 3533:3574). This was to be even more the case with respect to Christianity from the time of the Crusades onwards. to the rays of the sun.' black. would become terrified. we Europeans appear ugly in their eyes..

now continues to do. who "iconographically . who-when contrasted to the Spaniards in terms of prudence and reason (ingenium)-are almost "like monkeys to men.' to its descriptive statement of what it was to be a Christian-to be. therefore.' can be seen as transuming. in addition to their being co-classified with apes. while the iconic figure of the "ape" is main­ tained because the earlier matrix ontological distinction between the con­ 303 . as the referent of "normalcy:' their own somatotype norm in the same way as their now purely secular and biocen­ tric transformation of Christian. would be inextricably linked to ]udeo-Christianity's "for­ mulations of a general order of existence.' a precursor to the theory of Evolution. Sepulveda's classification of the peoples of the Americas as homunculi. the residual iconography of sin into the formulation of the new postulate of "significant ill" as that of being enslaved to the irrational aspects of one's nature. yet as a mode which nonconsciously carried over. So that.Sylvia Wynter • actualization.. the "descendants of Ham" classificatory category that was to be deployed by the Europeans at the popular level. in their own conception. signified sin:' Black Africans were generally thought in "medieval ape lore. once the Enemies-of-Christ justificatory category had been discarded as legitimation of the mass enslavements of Africans (at the official level of Church doctrine. or carrying over.. overrepresented as if its referent were the human. So that as a result. even more totally so. therefore. to be "degenerate" descendants of "true man" (Fernandez-Armesto 1987). Because all of these traditions reinforced each other. one of the justifications was also that the latter's physical enslavement was a means of saving their souls). of]udeo-Christianity's behavior-programming pos­ tulate of "significant ill" to its limit degree. the only possible and universally applicable mode ofbeing human. Man. PART III From the Iconography of Sin and the Christian Construction of Being to the Iconography of Irrationality and the Colonial Construction of Being: On the Paradox of the Mutation from Supernatural to Natural Causation.

This alerts us to the dialectic at work in the epochal shift effected by the West from . therefore. within the terms of the Judeo-Christian imaginary. and those predestined by it to remain enslaved to a lack of such reason. as the earlier ontological distinction between the Elect-Redeemed and the Condemned (a distinction that had been actualized by the relation between the category of the celibate clergy and that of the non-celibate laity) came to be replaced by the new distinc­ tion made between those determined by nature to be the possessors of rea­ son. within the terms of the same iconography. and the Elect category of those redeemed from this sin has now been recast in the terms of the "by­ nature difference" of rationality. where before the "Negro" had been projected. from the earlier iconography of sin and its postulate of "significant ill" to the new iconography of irrationality. in the Americas and the Caribbean.' had served as the intra-Christian-European signifier of the then "Significant ill" of enslavement to Original Sin. the increasingly interned figure of the Mad would itself come to function. the "ape" figure will be deployed in the new terms of a secularizing iconography as the marker of a naturally determined zero degree of irrationality. this distinction will be actualized in a new relation. This was the relation.• caused) missing link between true (because rational) humans and the irrational figure of the ape. as the "figure" of the human made degenerate by sin. whose figure. to its new postulate of "significant ill:' As a result. That is.the explanatory model of supernatural causation to that of natu­ ral causation. So that. as the signifier of the "significant ill" of a threatened enslavement to irrationality in the reoccupied place of the medieval Leper. like that of the ape. to the fact that it was the same explanatory model that .e. between the European settlers classified as by nature a people of reason (gente de raz6n) and the non-European popu­ lation groups "Indians" and "Negroes:' classified as "brute peoples without "reason" who were no less naturally determined to be so. now he/she will be projected as the by-nature determined (i. This at the same time as inside Europe. and therefore supernaturally determined (through the mediation of Noah's curse laid upon the descendants of Ham) to be the nearest of all peo­ ples to the ape. It is here. in a parallel way to that of the "Negro.304 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom demned category of peoples enslaved to Original Sin. that the figure of the Negro was now to be transferred.

With the result that the same explanatory model that legitimated the expropriation and internment of the Indians. as well as 305 . Since they are mechanisms that func­ tion to project their/our authorship onto Imaginary supernatural Beings. as Godelier points out. this was to be only fully effected by the parallel inven­ tion/instituting of the new categories that were to serve as the physical ref­ erents of Man's Human Other. which made the natural sciences possible. and correlated moral laws as they are of the sub­ jects. as well as to represent the latter as being as much the creators of the physical cosmos onto which each order mapped its structuring principles. in exactly the same way as "Indians" and "Negroes" were now going to be "known" by Europeans. therefore. and the internment of the Mad-all osten­ sibly as living proof of their naturally determined enslavement to irrational­ ity-will also underlie the cognitively emancipatory shift from the explanatory model of supernatural causation to that of natural causation. who ostensibly merely mirror these laws in the organization of their/our own social hierarchies. This meant that the same model that was to initiate-the {)enturies-Iong degradation of two human groups for the benefit of another such group was to also set in motion the process that would emancipate the 'objective set of facts" of the physical level of reality from having to be known in the adaptive truth-for terms in which it had been hitherto known by all human population groups. Christian. at the same time. This had been so known. and role allocations. made possible the rise and development of the physical sci­ ences as a new order of human cognition.Sylvia Wynter • legitimated the large-scale expropriation and mass enslavement of two peo­ ples on the grounds of a naturally determined difference of rational sub­ stance between them and their expropriators and slave masters that had. if the Copernican Revolution was to be only made possible by the West's invention of Man outside the terms of the ortho­ dox. The shift. the mass enslavement of the Negroes. divisions of labor. all human groups have been enabled to make the fact that it is they/we who are the authors and agents of our own orders opaque to themselves/ourselves. "sinful by nature" descriptive statement and theocentric conception of the human. descriptive statement of the human. as an indispensable function of the mechanisms by means of which. from the explanatory principle of Divine Providence and/or retribution. Hence the logic by which.

to that of the new principle of laws of nature.' now represented as the authoritative agent on earth of a God who. which was to be the structuring of the rearranged hierarchies of the now centralized political order of the modern state. was being projected upon another "space of Otherness:' This was that of the projected hierarchy of a graduated table. to identify as its Imaginary extrahuman Being the figure of "Nature. in contrast to the European (which is governed by laws). as the new rational/irrational line (drawn between the fundamental ontological distinction of a represented nonhomogeneity between divinely created-to·be-rational humans. if more slowly so.. and divinely created-to-be irrational animals. on the one hand. it is the population group classified as "Negro" by the West who would be made to pay the most total psycho-existential price for the West's epochal degod­ ding of both its matrix Judeo-Christian identity and the latter's projection of Otherness. ----------------------------­ 306 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom from that of witchcraft and sorcery. if that process called for the carrying over or transuming . that the figure of the Negro as the projected miss­ ing link between the two sides of the rational/irrational divide will inevitably come to be represented in the first "scientific" taxonomy of human popula­ tions. to the rise of modern medicine. of events happening cursus solitus naturae (in the accustomed or ordinary course of nature) as the explanatory model that underlay the sci­ entific revolution.~. that of Linnaeus. However. So irra­ tional that it will have to be governed by others. on the physical levels of reality. from those classified as the lowest to those as the highest. both with respect to the physical sciences and. as the population that. or Chain of all forms of sentient life. in the wake of its reinventing of its descriptive statement as that of Man in its first form. on the other) comes to be actualized in the institutionalized differences between European set­ tlers and Indians/Negroes. It is.at the same time as the West initiated the process by means of which the projection of extrahuman causation could no longer be mapped. in good faith. Since.. therefore. has now begun to recede into the distance. So that as the earlier Spirit/Flesh master code was being relegated to a secondary and increas­ ingly privatized space. -~.~ . In consequence. it would also begin.~ . the new rational/irrational master code. and as Poliakov argues in The Aryan Myth (1974). having created it. is governed by caprice (Linnaeus 1735).

condemned this time by the malediction of Nature rather than by Noah. Man. from 1492 onwards. different from the form it now takes." stereotyped role of the "Negro" was. condemning his descendants to be the servants to the descendants of those of his two other sons. all Jews who adhered to their religion of Judaism were expelled. to a shift in the role played by that other major Other figure to the Judeo­ Christian identity. the agents of its formal elaboration. This in the same way in which it would remain indispensable to the enacting of the descriptive statement of the now purely secular because bio­ centric Darwinian variant of Man: one in which the Human Other maledic­ tion or curse.Sylvia Wynter • (Bloom 1983) of the monotheistic macro-stereotype of all Black peoples as descendants of Noah's son Ham (whom he had cursed. this was because. Poliakov links that first form. in both cases. Japhet and Shem). together with the centralizing of its order. This shift began with the rise of the modern state in Spain. We are. its mode of consciousness or mind. one shared with all the now colonized nonwhite peoples classified as "natives" (but as their extreme nigger form) would be no longer that of Noah or Nature. of its genre of being human. howevet. and its reattachment to the new concept of the sub­ rational Negro. and there­ fore of the latter's adaptive truth-for. but of Evolution and Natural Selection. So that what­ ever the terms of derogatory cliches ofwhich both the native and the "Negro" are the butt. In that year. then as its first hybridly religio-secular variant. as intellectuals. The first form of the secularizing. what is clear is that its obsessive "name of what is evil" stereo­ typing functions as an indispensable part of the Godelier-type mechanism by which the subjects of the West (including those subjects like ourselves whom it has "westernized" and "modernized") are enabled to make opaque to themselves/ourselves (according to the same nature-culture laws by which the subjects of all other human orders have done and do the same) the empirical fact of our ongoing production and reproduction of our order. the Jew. the conquered Islamic Moors of southern Spain began to 307 . and the conceptual imaginative terms it would take. while shortly after. that stereotype had become indispensable to the mechanisms by which the Judeo-Christian West enacted its descriptive statement of the human-firstly as Christian. "name of what is evil.

under the aegis of the Inquisition as an agent of the new state had given rise to the problem of the conversos or converts. rather than being expelled-the impo­ sition of a single orthodox faith. the deep-seated belief in the pollution carried by their "negro blood" would lead to the theme of miscegenation coming to reoccupy the earlier foundational place that the incest had taken in all other human orders (Fox 1983). that of Christianity. cultural fields are kept in being by transump­ tive chains (Bloom 1982). Poliakov points out-because a great number of Jews had accepted conversion to Christianity. therefore.' together with that of its threatening "stain" (itself a "re-troped" form of the matrix negative construct of the "taint" of Original Sin) that. In consequence. for whom the "name of what is evil" was/is that of a common enslavement by all mankind to Original Sin. It was. that of a projected univer­ sally human scale of being. such as that of the 'clean" Spanish-Christian scale of being. With this being so. in the context of the shift from being a primarily religious subject. as the bottom marker-not now merely on a local scale. With the result that if the latter would (together with a range of other nonwhite "natives") come to reoccupy the now purely secular place that had been earlier occupied by the Marrano and Morisco. and also of their faith. because descended from ancestors who had practiced the Jewish and the Islamic creeds. This at the same time as all members of this population were now to be constructed. once re-troped as "racial purity:' would come to be attached to peoples ofBIack African hered­ itary descent.308 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom be forcibly converted to Christianity-both as effects of the goal of "religious unification" that was to be the basis of the monarchical order of Spain. discursively and institutionally.' or even more totally so in terms of the Darwinian paradigm of Evolution. it was to be the trope of "purity of blood. but instead of what was to become. to that of being a political subject of a state (yet unified on the basis of its Christian creed) that the Other to the norm of this subject was to be the category of the con­ versos. A specific reprobation was therefore now placed on these two categories: that of their impurity or uncleanness of blood. If. either Moriscos (Muslim converts) or Marranos (Jewish converts). both Marranos and Moriscos. . as Harold Bloom notes. from Sepulveda onwards. whether in the terms of the Enlightenment's "Nature.

a subject seeking to be spiritually redeemed). Beginning with Peter Martyr's 1516 definition of Indians as "white. beginning early on in the sixteenth century. that is. this placing was carried over in the first attempt at "racial classification" by Fran~ois Bernier in 1684. As redescriptions. both of the physical and (after Darwin) of the biological levels of real­ ity. a pro­ jected taxonomy of human population groups had begun to be put in place­ one in which the "Negro" had to be. which also assimilated the Indians to the white race now projected as the normal race. was to make possible the rise and development of the biological sciences. In that.' as contrasted with "black" Ethiopians. it would be the Black population group whose discursive and institutional degradation as the new ne plus ultra marker of barely human status (whether in the terms of Man! or of Man2) was to be an indispensable function of the enacting of the descriptive statements by means of which the West was to effect its epochal de-super­ naturalization of its matrix mode of being human. is the nonarbitrary and systemic nature of the way in which the range of negatively marked tropes attached to the "figure" of the "Negro" were/are only the contemporary culmination of a process by means of which. on the 309 . so it is to be with respect to the role of the Black Other in the construction of Europeans as racially "pure. by means of which it would open the frontier onto natural-scientific knowl­ edge. So that if Darwin's redescription of the human in now purely secular terms.Sylvia Wynter • What Poliakov reveals here.' secular subjects. at the bottom. at the same time as these redescriptions were to lead directly to the present "Two Cultures" divide of our contemporary order of knowledge. While the parallel sys­ temic construction of the Black as the "abnormal" race can be seen in the generalization of the positive/negative value meanings (common to all European languages) as between mestizo (whitelIndian) and mulatto (white/Black). therefore. as before. What Poliakov further demonstrates is that. beginning with the West's expansion in the fifteenth century. imperatively. and his deconstruction of the rational/irrational master code mapped on to a projected Chain of Being of all forms of sentient life. in the same way as the systemic construction of Moriscos and Marranos was an indispensa­ ble function of the inscripting and instituting of the norm subject of the Spanish religio-political monarchical state as a "clean" and therefore rational subject (rather than.

and in whose terms not only the peoples of the Black Diaspora. With this construction serving as an indispensable function of the contin­ ued production and reproduction of our still hegemonic biocentric and eth­ noclass descriptive statement of the human. for its enactment. B. Dubois was to identify as the Color Line: that is. because overrepresented as being isomorphic with the being of being human itself­ and dependent. was now to function at the level of the new bourgeois social order as a de facto new Argument-from-Design-one in which while one's selected or dysselected status could not be known in advance. While it was to be in the terms of this new Argument. both discursively and institutionally constructed. This principle.310 • Unsettling the Co]oniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom one hand-it was. it would come to be verified by one's (or one's group's) success or failure in life. as one whose discipli­ nary fields were to be all based on the new description of the human as a purely biocentric being. With this line being as centrally a function of the enacting of our present biocentric. but this time the peoples of Black Africa itself (as well as their continent. This principle would be embodied in the new line that W. on a new "space of Otherness" principle of non homogeneity in the reoccupied place of the earlier rational/irrational line. as it still continues to be. and enforced at the level of social real­ ity by the lawlikely instituted relation of socioeconomic dominance/subor­ dination between them.Africa). That is. ll were now to find themselves/ourselves as discursively and institutionally imprisoned as the Indians. descriptive statement of the human as . E. to provide the "new" ground for this "Two Cultures" organization/order of knowledge. together with all the colonized dark·skinned "natives" of the world and the darker-skinned and poorer European peoples themselves. with its postulate of the no less extrahuman (because bio-evolutionarily determined) ordering of our contemporary social and economic order. as a line drawn between the lighter and the darker peoples of the earth. as the first represented to be a universally applicable "descriptive statement" of the human. on the other. that the extreme situation both of the darker-skinned "natives" and of the Black in the West's new conception of the human was. that of bio-evolutionary Natural Selection. Man. the Negroes-as-slaves and the Mad had been discursively and institutionally imprisoned in the terms of the descriptive statement of the earlier form of Ma01.

•."Man"-to-Be-the-Human Issue. This amounts to nothing more nor less than man's surrender... What is by common consent called the human sciences have their own drama . all these inquiries lead only in one direc­ tion: to make man admit that he is nothing. absolutely nothing-and that he must put an end to the narcissism on which he relies in order to imagine that he is different from the other "animals:' . as the Genre or the Assuming-of. -Frantz Fanon. Thus. Having reflected on that... each genre-of-the-human)-must lawlikely know its reality primarily with reference to its own adaptively advantageous production/ reproduction as such a mode of being. Black Skins. I grasp my rrar­ cissism with both hands and I turn my back on the degradation of those who would make man a mere mechanism•. White Masks Here the Argument returns to Margaret Boden's point about the principal metaphysical significance of artificial intelligence (Boden 1977). the Multiple Challenges to "Man. PART IV From the Degodding of the Descriptive Statement to its De-biologizing...Sylvia Wynter • (in the medieval order of Latin-Christian Europe) the institutionally and dis­ cursively enforced line drawn between the categories of the clergy and the laity had been a central function of the enacting of the then theocentric genre or descriptive statement of the human." and the ColoniallNativelNegrolThird-World Questions. linking it to Nicholas Humphrey's distinction between the "objective" set of facts "out there" and the way each organism-or (as the Argument's extension of his thesis puts it.. And truly what is to be done is to set man free.{A111 these discoveries. from Natural to Nature-Culture Causation: The Sixties. what the range of anticolonial movements at the level of the global (as well the multiple) social movements internal to the United States and other First-World countries that took place during the fifties and sixties fundamentally revealed was the gap that exists 311 ..

rather than the mode-of-economic-production target of the Marxian Labor issue. This was that of the way in which while before the sixties. with the issues that before the sixties had been known as the Colonial Question. if in somewhat different terms. that is. they had redescribed their issue as that of gender and sexism. of truth. And although most of the new theoretical departures. Man. of freedom-as all three are articulated in the disciplines of our present epistemological order and its biocentric disciplinary discourses. he would add. were to be quickly reterritorialized and re-coopted back into the mainstream orthodoxies of our present disciplines. the fact is that (as noted earlier) some aspects of this initial impact have remained (Godzich 1980). women activists had ceased their earlier "echoing" of Marxist thought and had redefined the Woman's Question into an issue that was spe­ cific to their own concerns. thereby tar­ geting the deconstruction of the social phenomenon of patriarchy as their goal. non­ white) and the Negro Question-all of which had been.L -_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ 312 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom between our present "mental construction of reality" as one projected from the perspective (and to the adaptive advantage) of our present ethnoclass genre of the human. particularly decolonization and liberation movements. it was the multiple movements related to these ques­ tions that had most forcibly erupted in concrete political and social strug­ gles all over the globe. This has not been the case. This in spite of the fact that at the empirical level. as well as internally in the United States. Renaming themselves feminists. a subset of what might be called the Labor Issue. when he wrote in 1986 on the great impact of the sociopolitical upheavals of the late fifties and six­ ties. in the wake of the sixties. the issues with which women were concerned had been addressed only in the context of the Woman's Question of the Marxist paradigm (as. as before. the "Native" (i. subsets of the Marxian Labor issue. however. like the Woman's Question. the only paradigm concerned with the relation between knowledge and human emancipation).e. . outside the view­ point of ethnoclass Man-of its genre of being. That one of the central remaining manifestations of this impact was to be that of feminist studies was due to a fundamental fact. at that time. and its biocentric descriptive statement. The literary scholar Wlad Godzich first made this point. rather than as merely being. and the way our global social reality veridically is out there.

divinely created-to-be-rational humans. The paradox with which we are confronted here is the following: that in the wake of the intellectual revolution of the Renaissance. no less divinely created-to-be-irrational animals: that is. political Man (Prospero. the West's new master code of rational/irrational nature was now to be mapped onto a projected Chain of Being of organic forms of life. on the basis of the first part of its title. on the one hand. political subject. the physical cosmos could no longer come to be validly used for such projections. Man­ on the basis.Sylvia Wynter • The Argument proposes. of their parallel invention of Man's Human Others-Western intellectuals were to gradually emancipate knowl­ edge of the physical cosmos from having to be known in the adaptive. Instead. Man: above all. This issue is that of the genre of the human. seeing that it cannot exist as an ''object of knowledge" within the terms of our present order of knowledge any more than. ones that in the wake of the attaining of political inde­ pendence by the former colonies or of the ending of segregation in the United States would come to be labeled instead as the Third-World and "Minority" Questions. order­ maintaining terms in which it had hitherto been known by means ofthe rise and development of the physical sciences. 313 . organized about a line drawn between. as Jacob Pandian points out. biological life could have existed as an object of knowledge in the classical (and in my terms. the pre-bourgeois) episteme. as carried out in large part by the lay humanists of the Renaissance on the basis of their reval­ orized redescription of the human as the rational. now need to be redescribed in the terms of an issue that is specific to them-yet one that has hitherto had no name. and for all human groups. rather than as it is veridically: that of the Western and westernized (or con­ versely) global middle classes. This meant that increasingly. its overrepresentation of its well-being as that of the human species as a whole. on what was still adaptively known through the classical discipline of "natural history" as a still super­ naturally determined and created "objective set of facts:' This "space of Otherness" line of nonhomogeneity had then functioned to validate the socio-ontologicalline now drawn between rational. and on the other. as Foucault points out. that all of these Questions. the issue whose target of abolition is the ongoing collective produc­ tion of our present ethnoclass mode of being human.

as in the order of knowledge of pre-Newtonian Europe. in that Darwin. for example. with the human therefore existing in a line of pure continuity with all other organic forms of life. was sited in Evolution. before Copernicus.314 • Unsettling the Colonia1ity of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom the settler of European descent) and its irrational Human Others (the cate­ gories of Caliban [i. the subordinated Indians and the enslaved Negroes]). the "space of Otherness" pro­ jection of a nonhomogeneity of substance between the perfection of the celestial realm and the degradation of the terrestrial had reciprocally bol­ stered and validated the Spirit/Flesh code as enacted in the ontological value difference between clergy and laity within the terms of Judeo­ Christianity's matrix formulation of a 'general order of existence. thereby giving rise to the biological sciences and to its contemporary. Man (as embodied in Prospero) was redefined as optimally eco­ nomic Man. so all pre-Darwinian knowledge of organic life had had to be conceptualized in the terms of a (so to speak) proto. therefore. had been a central function of the Godelier-type mechanisms by means of which. A mutation had thereby occurred. dazzling tri­ umphs-as. all knowledge of the astronomy of the universe had had. however technically sophisticated and whatever its predictive power. as . The biological sciences were therefore to come into existence only in the wake of the second act of redescription effected during the nineteenth cen­ tury by Liberal humanist intellectuals-as a redescription by means of which the still hybridly religio-secular political subject conception of the human." In the same way. It can be seen in hindsight that the "space of Otherness" which had been projected both upon the heavens as well as upon organic life.or ethno­ biology. the cracking of the DNA code. together with the utopian cum dystopian promises and possibilities of biotechnology. to remain couched in ethno-astronomical terms. the Human Genome Project. in exactly the same way as. by means of his deconstruction of the Chain of Being that had been earlier mapped onto the rational human/irrational animals line. at the same time as this Man was redefined by Darwin as a purely biological being whose origin.e. like that of all other species. had begun the emancipation of the human knowledge of the purely biological level of reality from having to be known in genre-specific adaptive terms..

that of Latin-Christian Europe. the code ofselected by Evolution/dysselected by Evolution-was now to be mapped and anchored on the only available "objective set of facts" that remained. we keep our own authorship and agency opaque to ourselves. had been divinely created to be. social hierarchies. rather than as veridically or systemically produced by our collective human agency. With the status-ordering principles generated from their respective codes-one based on ostensibly differential degrees of enslavement to Sin/redemption from sin.• that of Redeemed Spirit/Fallen Flesh. that between rational humans and irra­ tional animals. This was the set of environmentally. Analogical in the sense that it was their "space of Otherness" projection that had induced the subjects of both of these orders to both know and experience their societies' respective role allocation. and in the second.e . climatically determined phenotypical dif­ ferences between human hereditary variations as these had developed in the wake of the human diaspora both across and out of the continent of Africa. that is. the other on ostensibly differential degrees of rational nature/enslavement to irrational nature-thereby inducing the subjects of these orders to experience their own placement in the structuring hierarchies of the order as having been extrahumanly (in these two cases supernaturally) designed and/or deter­ mined. The Argument proposes that the new master code of the bourgeoisie and of its ethnoclass conception of the human-that is. in that the respective codes that had been mapped upon them (i. divisions of labor. as a set of (so to speak) totemic differences.Sylvia Wynter • humans. which were now harnessed to the task of projecting the Color Line drawn institutionally and discursively between whites/nonwhites-and at its most extreme between 315 . followed by that of the monarchical (whether absolute or constitutionally limited) order of the landed-gentry West. in their respective ethno-knowledges. then that of rational nature [redeemed from irrationality] and irrational nature [enslaved to irrationality]) had both played a central analogical status-ordering and thereby system-maintaining role for their respective social systems: firstly. and ratio-proportional dis­ tribution of their goods and their bads as being supernaturally preor­ dained-as. both the projected difference of ontological substance between heaven and earth (Spirit/Flesh) in Ilhe first case.

before the end of politico-military colonial­ ism. by extrapolation. as the 'status-ordering principle based upon ostensibly differ­ ential degrees of evolutionary selectedness/eugenicity and/or dysselected­ ness/dysgenicity. as between the classes (middle and lower and. and divisions of labors each such genre of the human could alone realize itself-and with each such descriptive state­ ment therefore being rigorously conserved by the "learning system" and order of knowledge as articulated in the institutional structure of each order-this was to be no less the case with respect to the projected "space of Otherness" of the Color Line. on the one hand. even more centrally. analogically.e. alone able to provide the material conditions of existence for the production and reproduction of the . social hierarchies. then postcolonially as between the "developed" First World. with this rearticulated at the global lever as between Sartre's "Men" and Natives (see his guide-quote). and to recode in new terms their ostensible extrahumanly determined differ­ ences of ontological substance. system of role allocations. together with the overall global/national bourgeois order of things and its specific mode of economic production. as between Breadwinner (job­ holding middle and working classes) and the jobless and criminalized Poor. as Christian and as Manl). to its indispensability to the production and reproduction of our present genre of the human Mam. the idea that some humans can be selected by Evolution) and the Negroid phys­ iognomy (as symbolic death. of their descriptive statements (i. and of the overall order in whose field of interrelationships.316 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom the Caucasoid physiognomy (as symbolic life. that is. if the earlier two had been indispen­ sable to the production and reproduction of their respective genres of being human. rational humans/irrational animal lines. While. the "name of what is evil. Differential degrees. made to reoccupy the earlier places of the motion-filled heavens/non-moving Earth. The Color Line was now projected as the new "space of Otherness" principle of nonhomogeneity.. and between the heterosexual and homosexual erotic preference-and. and the "underdeveloped" Third and Fourth Worlds on the other. the name of what is good. or projection of genetic nonhomogeneity that would now be made to function.' the idea that some humans can be dysselected by Evolution)-as the new extrahuman line. With respect. between capital and labor) as well as between men and women.

With this genre of the human being one in the terms of whose dually biogenetic and economic notions of freedom both the peoples of African hereditary descent and the peoples who comprise the damned archipelagoes of the Poor. or of minding. The buck for such knowledge (one able to open up a new frontier of nonadaptive human self-cognition. by means of the devel­ opment of the natural sciences. and postcolonially the "Underdeveloped" or Third/Fourth-Worlds Question can be clearly seen to be the issue. on the one hand. the jobless the homeless. It is in this context that the Negro.Sylvia Wynter • ethnoclass or Western-bourgeois answer that we now give to the question of the who and what we are. and overrepresented modality of being human. by extrapolation. we have hitherto had no such parallel knowledge with respect to ourselves and the nature-culture laws that gov­ ern our modes of being. capitalist mode of production is an indispensable and irreplaceable. beyond the ethnoclass limits of our contemporary ones) stops with us. the "underdeveloped" must lawlikely be sacrificed as a function of our continuing to project our collective authorship of our con­ temporary order onto the imagined agency of Evolution and Natural Selection and. biocentric. the continuing dazzling successes of the biological sciences and. but rather ofthe ongoing production and reproduction of this answer-that is. of mind. The challenge to be confronted at this conjuncture is this: While from the Renaissance onwards. not of our present mode of economic pro­ duction. enabled us to obtain nonadaptive knowl­ edge of our nonhuman levels of reality. on the other. and therefore the possibility of our nonheteronomously and now consciously ordered/motivated behaviors. our present biocentric ethnoclass genre of the human. but only a proximate function. While the prescriptive guidelines of how we are to set about this challenge lie in the paradox of the new Darwinian descriptive statement of the human: Man in its second. of which our present techno-industrial. not only to the obsessive ethno-biological beliefs in the genetic 317 . of behaving. at the core of its paradigm of Evolution that wasto give rise to. What then had been the contradiction at the heart of the Darwinian Revolution. the Colonial Questions. the Native. onto the "Invisible Hand" of the "Free Market" (both being cultural and class-specific constructs). Western intellectuals have. purely secular.

but were also shifts in what can now be identified as tM "politics of being". then as Mall! becomes Man2 (as a bio-economic subject). then. and therefore ethno-disciplines of the humanities and social sci­ ences on the other? Although Foucault. therefore. these shifts in epis­ temes were not only shifts with respect to each episteme's specific order of knowledge/truth. both discontinu­ ous and continuous. from the six­ teenth century onwards. in the barely evolved near-primate status of black-skinned peoples (as matrix beliefs that would logically make possible the "life unworthy of life" extermination credo of the Nazis). It is with this proposal that he also provides the answer to the why of the imper­ ative signifying role that will continue to be placed by the secular West upon . in both cases. that is. as the new Untrue Human Others to the "true" human that is Man.:al order of existence. from the end of the eighteenth century onwards. That. was taking place in the terms of a continuous cultural field. P. as native and nigger Others to Mam. like the earlier discontinuity that had been effected by the classical episteme itself. This was the fact that Jacob Pandian brought to our attention when he noted that the Untrue Christian Self as the Other to the True Christian Self of the Judeo-Christian conception was to be re-inscripted. insti­ tuting ofeach genre of the human. like their respective genres of being human.318 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom inferiority of nonwhite natives. in his analysis of the processes by means of which the classical episteme was replaced by our own. the governing sociogenic principle. as a politics that is everywhere fought over what is to be the descriptive statement. to the natural-scientific disciplines on the one hand. Firstly as subrational Indian. With this coming to mean that. but also at the same time to C. Snow's "Two Cultures" division of knowledge? That is. and to the rigorous yet adaptive. Negro Others to Manl. their epis­ temes will be. what he oversaw was that such a discontinuity. in its two forms. With the result that as Christian becomes Mall! (as political subject). secondly. each of these new descriptive statements will nevertheless remain inscribed within the frame­ work of a specific secularizing reformulation of that matrix Judeo-Christian Grand Narrative. had proposed that these epistemes be seen as being discontinuous with each other. one instituted by the matrix Judeo-Christian for­ mulation of a gene.

if in new post-six­ ties terms. the "undeserving" "name of what is evil" ordering principle that still reenacts the matrix stigma that had been placed by medieval Christianity on the Negroid physiognomy (Gans 1999). The answer also as to the why the negative connotations that will continue to be placed on it should. that had functioned to legitimate both the ruling status ofthe landed gentry and the order ofknow1­ edge of the classical episteme. one waged over what is to be the descriptive state­ ment of the human. including the human species (one able to move outside t e terms of the '~rgument from Divine Design"). as such. 319 . to be the alien features of the Negroid physiognomy. still carryover. about whose master code of symbolic life and death each human order organizes itself. while now effected in purely biologized terms. degraded. as such. as put suc­ cinctly by Frantz Fanon.----------~~--~~~~-- Sylvia Wynter • what seems to its subjects. but rather as barely evolved. and that had provided the mode of adaptive truth-for indispensable to the legitimation of the ruling gentry's hegemony. "wherever he[/she] goes in the world. Since it was to be in the context of the political struggle for hege­ mony that was being waged by a then increasingly wealthy but non-landed bourgeoisie against the established ruling elite of the landed gentry elite that arwin would be impelled to put forward a new theory with respect to the rigin of all species. at least as it had to do with the human. half-mythic theory of origins. It then proposes that it was precisely because of the above political dynamic-which underpinned the Darwinian Revolution. The Argument here redefines Marx's class struggle in the terms ofa "pol­ itics of being": that is. from it (and. but all the peoples of Black Mrica who would be also compelled to confront the inescapable fact (one attested to by the infamous 41-bullet shooting death of Amadou Diallo) that. not now as fallen to the status of the ape. the Negro remains a Negro" (Fanon 1967)-and. and thereby nonmoving Earth. from the perspective of their somatic norm. an undeserving race because dysselected-by-Evolution within the logic of the Darwinian paradigm). making it possible-that it was also compelled to function as a half-scientific. made to reoccupy the signi­ fying place of medieval/Latin-Christian Europe's fallen. With the conse­ quence that because now made to embody and actualize the example of the human. it was now not only the peo­ ples of the Black ex-slave Diaspora.

unaided by any measures taken by the state. in order that its members can be weeded out by the "iron laws" of nature. enslavement is now to the threat of Malthusian overpopulation. For Malthus. The above reformulations were all part of the then intellectuals' struggle to redescribe both the human. in the case of the latter. What Malthus puts in place. the law of self­ regulation that follows logically calls for the state's noninterference with the ostensibly extrahuman regulatory effect of the supposed "law of nature"-a law that also calls for the category of the Poor to be left by themselves. Blumenberg reveals the central role that will be played in this reformu­ lation by the clergyman-economist Thomas Malthus (Blumenberg 1983). This is the new form of the "absence of order" that Malthus will elaborate in his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population. is that their redescription will be one that carried in its turn a new descriptive statement . or to one's irrational nature-with. however. in the place of the matrix spiritual. What is usually overlooked. to its concomitant "ill" of Natural Scarcity whose imperative "plan of salvation" would now be postulated in economic terms as that of keeping this at bay-of material. With the result that given the widening gap between the two progressions. therefore. Redemption. is the second transumed reformulation of the matrix Judeo­ Christian formulation. Rather. the ostensibly fundamental contradiction posed by the fact that men's increase in numbers is a geometric progression. whereas the increase in the quantity of food can only be an arithmetical progression. the threat or "signifi­ cant ill" of the political state falling into the chaos and nonpredictability of a state-of-nature.' which predetermines a new modality of the "absence of order": this time. at the same time as it would also elaborate a new origin narrative in place of Genesis (Isaacs 1983).320 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom It was in order to deconstruct the ''Argument from Divine Design" that Darwin was to put forward his brilliantly innovative new paradigm that would lead to the rise and development of the biological sciences. it is the "autonomous lawfulness of population growth:' projected as a "universal law of life. and its human activity. outside the terms of the description of the human on whose basis the owners of landed wealth had based their hegemony. Enslavement here is no longer to Original Sin.

in an institution now made to actualize the idea of the human overcome by Natural Scarcity. While it will be in the lineaments of the new criteria defining of Mam.' or postulate of "signifi­ cant ill. so this new archipelago of Otherness will be made to signify the realization of the new reformulation's posited "absence of order. that the lineaments of its negative Human Others are also already outlined. And "curable. the homeless. ostensibly because of the represented bio-evolu­ tionarily determined incapacity of its members to do otherwise. one now comprised of the jobless.' because unable. capital-owning bourgeoisie as the new ruling elite. Since. as the "native" rural agro-proletariat interned in colonial insti­ tutions would be made to actualize the category most totally condemned to poverty and joblessness. Seeing that if at one level Ma02 is now defined as a jobholding Breadwinner. the Poor. and therefore in the process of being swept away by Malthus's "iron laws of nature. it is the freed Negro. in the Euro-Americas. together with the Indians interned in reservations.' the enslaved "Negro" in which it had been earlier defined. This at the same time. of the politically condemned. what might be called the archipelago of its modes of Human Otherness can no longer be defined in the terms of the interned Mad. as a successful "masterer of Natural Scarcity" (Investor. or as peons on hacien­ das. the sys­ temically made jobless and criminalized-of the "underdeveloped"-all as the category of the economically damnes (Fanon 1963).' defined now in economic terms. That is. it will be the Poor who will be made to reoccupy the earlier proscribed interne places ofthe Leper and the Mad. as before. to master the "ill" of this scarcity. Instead.' therefore. whose proscribed role had called for him/her to actual­ ize the realization of the effects of mankind's enslavement to Original Sin. like the medieval Leper. as the regular job­ holding Breadwinners and Investors are so clearly able to do. With the result that if inside Europe. as Fanon shows in The Wretched ofthe Earth. only in economic terms. or capital accumulator). rather than. 321 . and even more optimally. the interned "Indian.Sylvia Wynter • able to legitimate the rise to hegemony of the non-landed. in the terms of this new descriptive statement. the new descriptive statement of the human will call for its archipelago of Human Otherness to be peopled by a new cat­ egory. who will now be interned in the new institution of Poverty!Joblessness.

and by the rational humans/irrational animals premises of nonhomogeneity in order to enable the selected/dysselected. The Color (cum Colonial) Line would. the homeless. will now be discursively and institutionally deployed as a "space of Otherness" on which to project an imagined and extrahumanly (because ostensibly bio-evolutionarily) deter­ mined nonhomogeneity of genetic substance between the category of those selected-by-Evolution and the category of those dysselected-by-Evolution.. together with their redefinition of Man] in the purely secular and now biocentric terms of Ma02 that these new sciences are going to be made possible. as drawn between the lighter and the darker races). however nonconsciously so. is one that no longer needs to know the world of organic life in the ostensibly supernaturally ordered. adaptive truth­ for terms in which it had to be known by the subject-bearers of Manl-as it had been known. in its now purely degodded conception. In that it is going to be in the wider context of the intellectual revolu­ tion of Liberal or economic (rather than civic) political humanism that is being brought in from the end of the eighteenth century onwards by the intellectuals of the bourgeoisie.. the underdeveloped-to the issue raised earlier with respect to the imperative "Two Culture" organization of our present order of knowledge... one that links the imperatively secured bottom role of the Black Diaspora peoples-as well as the systemic expendability of the global Poor. in the same way as Jacques Le Goff documents the enslaved to the flesh/Redeemed-in-the­ . supralunar/sublunar. of the jobless. Since the new genre of being human. Yet it is also in the terms of this specific political project that the fundamental paradox of the Darwinian Revolution emerges... that of Dubois's Color Line in its white/nonwhite. and thus deserving/undeserving status organizing principle that it encoded to function for the nation-state as well as the imperial orders of the Western bourgeoisie. with these terms serving to validate the hegemony of the owners of landed rather than of moveable wealth.~---------------------------. or capital. therefore. be made to reoccupy the places earlier occupied by the Heaven/Earth. in the terms of Foucault's classical episteme. therefore. 322 • ------------------ Unsettling tne Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom What can be seen as at work here is the positive aspect of the political project that..--~-.. drove Darwin's intellectual enter­ prise. To sum up: it is in this context that a new principle of nonhomogeneity... Men/Natives form (Le.

in the case of the bourgeoisie.Sylvia Wynter • Spirit. and that of the Investor/Breadwinners versus the criminalized jobless Poor (Nas's "black and latino faces") and Welfare Moms antithesis. altruistically bonded with their dominant middle classes by the fact of their having all been selected by Evolution in terms of race. before the sixties. This had been that of enabling a u. the enforced segregation of the Black population in the South as the liminally deviant category of Otherness through whose systemic nega­ tion the former Civil War enemies of North and South. thereby falling to the level of beasts [Le Goff1988]). So that where the ranking rule of superiority/inferi­ ority accepted and internalized by all the subjects of the medieval order of Europe had been that of differential degrees of redemption from enslave­ ment to the Fallen Flesh. to use the term made famous by The Bell Curve. together with the vast wave of incoming immigrants from Europe. therefore. superior/inferior ethnicities.s. 323 . by means of the shared similarity of their now­ canonized "whiteness"). in addition. their segregated status had served another central function. obsessively priding themselves on their ability to keep themselves chaste and sexually continent on feast days. and most totally between the represented-to-be superior and inferior races and cultures-that would come to function as the dually status-organizing and integrating principle of u. "dysgenicity:' It is this new master code. even where not selected by Evolution in class terms. gave in to their lustful and carnal desires. gender. it would come to be based on degrees of selected genetic merit (or eugenics) versus differential degrees of the dysselected lack of this merit: differential degrees of. bourgeoisie. the rank­ ing rule would be a transumed form of the first. as Le Goff points out. deserving/undeserving status-organizing principle had functioned for the ecclesiastical-cum-medieval aristocratic order of Latin-Christian Europe (Le Goff 1988). as being compensatorily. degrees therefore of religious merit (with the "learned" scholars of the order. to dampen class conflict by inducing their own working class to see themselves. As such. rapidly growing more affluent. would be enabled to experience themselves as a We (that is. society.s. one that would now come to function at all levels of the social order-including that of class. sexual orientation. unlike them. So that if. at the same time as they stigmatized the peasants as people who.

324 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom For this vicarious compensation had been (and still is) urgently neces­ sary.e. over their "racial" anti-type Other. This premise had induced in the white. to experience them­ selves as having been selected. to not be middle class was/is to have to accept one's ostensible dysselection. at the same time as this mechanism induces them to continue to see/experience themselves as also being. blue-collar working classes. to belong to the category of humans most totally of all peoples dysselected-by­ Evolution. With this being so proved. since it is the ostensible proof of their alleged dysse­ lected "undeservingness" that then functions as the central psychic com­ pensatory mechanism for the white working class. whether those of the school curricula as noted by Carter G. most totally. in whose "dysselected by Evolution until proven otherwise" criterion (i. Seeing that it was and is only such mechanisms that can enable the white. . whose corrosive force could only be assuaged by institutionalized mechanisms. together with their bourgeoisie. in terms of class. "dysselected by Evolution"-a perception that induces them to accept their own class-subordinated status. as well as the hegemony of their middle classes. Woodson in 1933. guilty until proven innocent) the individual could not know if s/he had indeed been so selected except by attaining to the optimal status of being a middle class Breadwinner and/or successful Entrepreneur/Investor. by the fact of the empirical dominance and supremacy of whites as a group over all other nonwhite races and. although not in class terms. ostensibly. or that of outright segregation of (as well as of multiple other forms of discrimination against) the Black U. as well as the white pOOl. at least as mem­ bers. population group. The bottommost role of Black Americans in the United States is systemically produced. the Black American-as the group whose Negroid physiognomy and origin con­ tinent/Africa prove them. within the terms of the Darwinian Imaginary. of the highly selected and thus highly "deserving" white race. blue-collar (non-middle) working classes' status a deeply destructive form of self~ hatred.. This was so in that in the terms of their new behavior programming schema. S. given the degree of psychic devastation wrought on the non-middle­ class groups by the terms of the new degodded redescription of the human in the context of the Darwinian/Malthusian reformulation of the original Judeo-Christian formulation.

barely evolved. and of material resources on the other). on the one hand. if still at a secondary level.' all of whom. and children that they are being condemned It is as "the name of what is evil:' Here. ___ ~ ____ ~ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ Sylvia Wynter • The Negroid physiognomy and its continent of origin. the dimensions of the fundamental paradox that lies at the core of the Darwinian answer to the question of who we are (when seen from the perspective of the goal of unsettling our present coloniality of power. With the post­ Sixties' reordering of society. no longer of the human made degenerate by sin and therefore fallen to the status of the apes._~~. The paradox is this: that for the "descriptive statement" that 325 . and as such intermediate between "true" humans and the primates. women. As such. "Negroid" physiognomy and skin color will be made to coalesce with the inner city status ofpoverty and joblessness.L -_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . but of the human totally dysse­ lected. if they are to be. together with the dark-skinned poorer peoples assimilated to its category have been made to function within the terms of our present biocentric con­ ception of the human. A parallel and interlinked role is also played by the category of the Poor. interned in their systemically produced poverty and expendability. again. struggle to prove that they themselves are not. They will do so together with those brown Latino faces assimi­ lated to its status as this status. as well as of its related "formulation of a general order of existence" (whose postulate of "significant ill" is that of a dual mode of Natural Scarcity-that is. eager to see poor women taken off welfare and kept "out of plain sight. as the actu­ alized embodiment. and drugs. Black Africa. it is not as men. of being) emerges. the "underdeveloped. a scarcity of fully genetically selected human beings. enables the incor­ poration of the socially mobile Black middle class into the normative order of things. are now made to function in the reoccupied place of the Leper of the medieval order and of the Mad of the monarchical. a new Liminal category. the homeless." Since here. the jobless. The metaphysical dread of this "Negroid" presence by the "normal" subjects of the order will lead logically to Nas Escobar's "taxpayers" being eager to pay for more jails for Black and Latin faces. the marker of that most totally dysselected-by­ Evolution mode of non-being that each individual and group must strive to avoid.~~. crime. so as to actualize at the economic level the same dysgenic or dysselected-by-Evolution conception.

" that Virginia Woolf had brilliantly zeroed in on (in her essay A Room ofOne's Own).-------------- --~~ . made by "angry male professors.. it must ensure the functioning of strategic mechanisms that can repress all knowledge of the fact that its biocentric descriptive statement is a descriptive statement. a self-representing species.' by its systemic production of the constant of the 15 percent school achievement gap between white and . behavior-motivating/demotivating processes as it has to do with the stigmatizing portrayal of women as intellectually inferior. ontogeny that preexists cul­ ture. humans have been pre-adapted.' as expressed in the curriculum and order of knowledge of the United States. Deacon points out in his 1997 book The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution ofLanguage and the Brain. and as lawlikely demotivating Blacks (by representing theirs as hav­ ing done nothing). ­ 326 • Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom defines the human as purely biological being on the model of a natural organism (thereby projecting it as preexisting the narratively inscribed "descriptive statement" in whose terms it inscripts itself and is reciprocally inscripted. therefore. and for the Black population group to be at the bottom (Woodson 1933). seeing that. as he pointed out. Yet that such strategic. In consequence. With this thereby "verifYing. that the Black American educator Carter G. This function was one that. Woodson was to identifY in his 1933 Miseducation of the Negro as functioning in a parallel manner as a behavior-motivating/de motivating mechanism. by motivating whites (by representing their ancestors as having done everything worthwhile doing). if it was the functioning of these symbolic. as Terrence W. to be a sym­ bolic and. are able to function at all (if outside our conscious awareness) is itself directly due to the fact that. it was also this same "representational process. the curriculum's systemic canonization/positive marking of all things European and Euro-American. and no less systemic stigmatization/ negative marking of all things African/ Mro-American clearly had an extracognitive function. This. order that called for the white population group as a whole to be at the apex of the social order. GodeJier-type mechanisms of occultation.. representa­ tional. ensured the stable reproduction of the U. repressing recognition that our present descrip­ tive statement of the human is a descriptive statement.S. sociogeny). primarily through the co-evolution of language and the brain. as if it were a purely biological being.

Since what Joins all of these challenges. the dysselected­ by-Evolution nature of the other. thereby enabling the subjects of our orders to continue to experience it as the realization of a true.' from human status. as the standpoint of groups. If Fanon. is transformatively generated. from the standpoint of a "native colonized" and Black Human Other (i. order.. but also of their expulsion. power. truth. the selected-by-Evolution status of the one. but also to the multiple challenges mounted during the sixties-both at the global level by anticolonial activists and by activists in Europe. As the line from which the status-ordering principle. the coloniality of being. the same linkage can also be made several centuries backward to Las Casas's profound challenges to what he called the "slandering" of the indigenous peoples as a function of the legitimating not only of the expro­ priation of their lands. freedom to which such an overrepresentation leads.e. from that of Las Casas to all those of our contemporary order. in both of its variants: to. because ostensibly extrahumanly determined. together with feminists and Gay Liberationists-with all call­ ing in question the systemic nature of their negative markings as nongeneric or abnormal Others to a series of positively marked generic norms. their profound challenge to the overrepresentation of Man. and then in the United States by Blacks and a range of other non­ white groups.Sylvia Wynter • Black students. the Argument proposes. thereby. then the following linkages can be made. Man. and therefore as insights into the necessarily adaptive truth-for nature of the overall system of knowledge that is enacting of these processes. Linkages not only to Aime Cesaire's recognition of the same "demotivating" processes at work in ensuring the subordination of the decolonized in his Discourse on Colonialism (1960). based upon differential degrees of selectedness/dysselectedness and functioning at all levels of the order. and thereby the principle of nonhomo­ geneity that is mapped upon the "space of Otherness" of the Color Line in its most total white/Black forms. prohibited-most totally so the lat­ 327 . If this same overall representation process was to be followed up post-sixties by Edward Said's more in-depth elaboration of Gesaire's thesis with respect to Orientalism. as "such a large part of God's creation. Ifwe see both Woolf's and Woodson's insights as insights into the work­ ings of the symbolic representation processes instituting of our present genre of the human. is.

328 •

Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom

ter-from realizing themselves as fully human within the terms of our pres­
ent ethnoclass genre of the human), was to put forward the conception of
modes of sociogeny (of each genre-specific governing sociogenic principle,
descriptive statement, or code of symbolic life/death) as a new object of
knowledge, which itself functions in a "space of transculture;' as a space
from which to define the human outside the terms of anyone member of the
class of such principles, statements and codes, he had thereby laid the basis
for a fundamental recognition on our part. A recognition in which we can
come to see ourselves as a contemporary, increasingly westernized (in the
terms of Man) population. who. as in the case of all other genre-specific
human populations. inscript and auto-institute ourselves as human through
symbolic, representational processes that have. hitherto, included those
mechanisms of occultation by means of which we have been able to make
opaque to ourselves the fact that we so do. While it was a parallel recogni­
tion that some half a century ago led Aime Cesaire (because coming from
the same standpoint of liminal deviance to our present ethnoclass norm of
being human as did Fanon) to put forward his cognitively emancipatory pro­
posal for a new science able to complete the natural sciences.
The natural sciences (Cesaire had argued in a talk given in Haiti. entitled
"Poetry and Knowledge") are. in spite of all their dazzling triumphs with
respect to knowledge of the natural world. half-starved. They are half­
starved because they remain incapable of giving us any knowledge of our
uniquely human domain. and have had nothing to say to the urgent prob­
lems that beleaguer humankind. Only the elaboration of a new science,
beyond the limits of the natural sciences (he had then proposed), will offer
us our last chance to avoid the large-scale dilemmas that we must now con­
front as a species. This would be a science in which the "study of the Word"­
of our narratively inscribed, governing sociogenic principles, descriptive
statement, or code of symbolic life/death. together with the overall symbolic,
representational processes to which they give rise-will condition the "study
of nature" (Cesaire 1946, 1990). The latter as study, therefore (the Argument
proposes), of the neurophysiological circuits/mechanisms of the brain that,
when activated by the semantic system of each such principle/statement.
lead to the specific orders of consciousness or modes of mind in whose

Sylvia Wynter

terms we then come to experience ourselves as this or that genre/mode of
being human. Yet, with this process taking place hitherto outside our con­
scious awareness, and thereby leading us to be governed by the "imagined
ends" or postulates of being, truth, freedom that we lawlikely put and keep
in place. without realizing that it is we ourselves, and not extrahuman enti­
ties. who prescribe them.
In his introduction to Fanon's Les damnfJs de La terre (The Wretched of
the Earth),J. P. Sartre zeroed in on the parallel dilemma of "colonized" native
intellectuals who find themselves/ourselves in a situation in which the
Man/Native dichotomy can be seen as an exact parallel of the clergy/laity
dichotomy as it existed towards the end of the Middle Ages. Like the clergy
intellectuals then. now it is the intellectuals of Man who "own the Word;'
while, like the pre-Renaissance lay intellectuals. it is the "native" intellectu­
als (and postcolonially speaking, the intellectuals of the subordinated and
economically impoverished world) who now have only the use of Man's
Word. who therefore can only "echo:' That is, who must think, write. and pre­
scribe policies. however opposition ally so, in the terms of the very biocen­
tric paradigms that prescribe the subordination and impoverishment of the
vast majority of the worlds to which they/we belong; since paradigms elab­
orated in the very terms of the descriptive statement of the human. in whose
logic the non-Western. nonwhite peoples can only. at best. be assimilated as
honorary humans (as in the case of the "developed" Japanese and other
lighter-skinned Asians) and. at the worst, must (as in the case of Nas's "black
and latino faces") forcibly be proscribed from human status by means of the
rapidly expanding U.S. prison-industrial system; as itself, a central mecha­
nism of the overall archipelagoes of the poverty-producing institutions of
the Third and Fourth Worlds, archipelagoes that are the major costs paid for
the ongoing production. realization. and reproduction of our present ethn­
oclass genre of the human. of its overrepresentation as if it were isomorphic
with the human, its well being. and notion of freedom, with those that would
have to be brought into existence, were the well-being of the human to be
made into the referent imperative.
If, as Sartre saw so clearly in the case of Fanon, "native" intellectuals had
ceased echoing and had begun opening their mouths for themselves in


330 •

Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom

response to a parallel "phase of objectification;' a hardening insulation from
what is human that is increasingly made evident by the ossification of Our
present order of knowledge and its biocentric paradigms, so Fanon's "self­
assertion;' his concentration on finding the lost motives, related no longer
to Man's but to our human self-interest, was to be effected by means of a
redescription parallel to that by means of which the lay humanists had
invented Man and its Human Others in the reoccupied place of the Christian
genre of the human and its pagan/idolator/Enemies-of-Christ/Christ­
killer/infidel Others. Nevertheless, while these lay humanist intellectuals
had indeed effected a redescriptive statement by means of which they secu­
larized human existence. detaching it from the supernatural agency of the
divine realm, they had done so only by opening the pathway that would
eventually lead, with Darwin, to a new descriptive statement, itself re­
anchored in the no less extrahuman agency of Evolution, thereby reducing
the human within the terms of a biocentric "human sciences" paradigm to
being a "mere mechanism" driven in its behavior by its genetic programs­
and, as such, subject to the processes of natural causation, rather than to the
ontogeny/sociogeny or nature-culture modality of causation, which alone
could enable (as Fanon brilliantly glimpsed) the reflexively self-aversive
behavior of many westernized Black peoples. made into the Other to our
present ethnoclass norm of being human, to repress the genetic instinctual
narcissism defining ofall modes of purely organic life. And what Fanon's new
answer to the question of who/what we are (its revalorizing "descriptive
statement" detached now from any form of extrahuman agency or author­
ship, theocentric or biocentric) enables us to come to grips with is precisely
such a new mode of causation. thereby. with the still-to-be-explained puzzle
of (human) consciousness(es), doing so outside the terms of our present
"Two Culture" order of knowledge and its adaptive "regime of truth" based
on the biocentric disciplinary paradigms in whose terms we at present know
our social reality; this, as the indispensable condition of our continuing to
assume that the mode of being in which we now are (have socialized/
inscripted ourselves to be) is isomorphic with the being of being human
itself. in its multiple self-inscripting. auto-instituting modalities.

Sylvia Wynter

If Cesaire called in 1946 for a new science of the Word. a science there­

fore of our dual descriptive statements and thereby of our modes/genres of
being human, doing so from the perspective of a poet-in 1988. the physicist
Hans Pagel would make a parallel call in his 1988 book The Dream ofReason:
The Computer and the Rise ofthe Sciences of Complexity. His call. too, was

for a new frontier to be opened onto a nonadaptive mode of human self-cog­
nition: onto the possibility, therefore, of our fully realized autonomy of feel­
ings. thoughts. behaviors.
The true leap. Fanon wrote at the end of his Black Skins, White Masks.
consists in introducing invention into existence. The buck stops with us.

1. The epigraphs placed at the beginning ofselect sections are intended to serve as gulde­
quotes. or as Heideggerlan guideposts (Heldegger 1998). to orient the reader as the
Argument struggles to think! articulate itself outside the terms of the disciplinary dis­
courses of our present epistemological order;


that it is these discourses, this

order. that are necessarily-as the condition of our being In the genre/mode of being
human that we now hegemonically are-instituting/inscripting both of the Man of the
Argument's title. and of Its overrepresentation as if it were the human.
2. The series of papers presented/made available by Anfbal Quijano at the 1999 and 2000
conferences held by the Coloniality Working Group at SUNY-Binghamton are central to
the formulations of this Argument (see References).
3. The same holds for the two papers presented by Walter Mignolo at both of these con­
ferences (see References), as well as for his book Local Histories/Global Designs:

Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking (2000).
4. The divide is not only economic, but also behavioral. Where the subjects of the techno­
industrial North are hegemonically oriented in their behaviors by the contemporary
secular metaphysics of productivity and profitability. the subjects of the South. while
drawn into the margins as satellite spheres of the techno-industrial North, are still
partly oriented in their behaviors by the largely religious. traditional metaphysics of
reproductivity/fertility that had been instituting of the agrarian revolution. The prob­
lem of the environment, of global warming, etc.• is directly due to the convergence of
these two metaphysics and the way in which both continue to impel our collective
behaviors outside of our conscious awareness,


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